Can You Defame Yourself?

Apparently you can, but a Kings County judge won’t allow you to sue someone for it.

In a recent case, the plaintiff sued after being fired from her position as a hospital psychiatrist, with the termination reported to the New York State Office of Professional Medical Conduct, New York State’s regulatory authority. The plaintiff claimed that the termination was without basis. As part of her complaint, plaintiff sought damages for “compelled self-defamation.” Plaintiff alleged that because she was fired, she is required to reveal to prospective employers that a report of why she was fired was filed with the State. By doing so, plaintiff is compelled to republish the defamatory statements made by the hospital, thus self-defaming herself.

Citing to appellate authority that refused to recognize defamation where the plaintiff herself republishes the defamatory statement, the court reluctantly dismissed that claim. In doing so, the court noted that other courts, including Federal courts, have recognized a claim for self-defamation. In fact, the court cited some of those Federal court decisions and predicted that New York State will one day recognize this claim.

But will you ever be able to sue yourself?

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