Defamation of Character
As American citizens, we are guaranteed the right to freedom of speech by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. We can express our views and state our opinions on the event that occur around us, the experiences we have, and the fundamental beliefs we hold dear. At the same time, we are not at liberty to make statements about other people that are untrue, misleading, or have the intent or possibility of doing damage to their reputation. Cases involving defamation, slander, and libel can cause serious damage to a person’s overall well being, their reputation and their ability to conduct business or succeed in the community. In an age where people communicate with one another faster and more frequently than ever before, rash and potentially damaging statements can end up doing irreparable harm to victims, and cost the people who make these statement large amounts of money.
Defamation Under S.C. Law
Federal law defines defamation as communicating in a manner that harms another person, regardless of whether or not the statements were intended to cause harm. Under South Carolina law there are two kinds of defamation:
- Slander, or verbal statements that are untrue and harm another person’s reputation
- Libel, or statements that are written or posted which could harm another’s reputation
Under Section 16-7-150 of the South Carolina Code of Laws, both slander and libel are considered to stem out of malicious intent to injure a person’s character or reputation. If a person is found guilty of slander or libel, they could face fines up to five thousand dollars, and face imprisonment up to a year. In many cases, they are also liable to pay damages to the person that was harmed by the statement.
Defamation in the Information Age
Today, negative comments about other people have a way of traveling faster and wider than ever before. Employers can be sued for defamatory comments about prior employees, and even posts made on social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, can result in a lawsuit. One of the first social media defamation cases involved singer Courtney Love. The singer’s defamatory comments about a clothing designer resulted in a lawsuit. In a Twitter post griping about the amount she was billed for clothing from designer Dawn Simorangkir, Love claimed the designer was a drug peddler and a prostitute with a record of assault and battery. After six years in court, the defamation settlement in the Courtney Love case required her to pay was $350,000, which was on top of the $430,000 she had paid the designer in a previous settlement. The case broke new legal ground, and has set the stage for similar lawsuits over defamatory posts made on social media.
Contact Us Today for Help
If your reputation has been damaged as the result of defamation, contact Anastopoulo Law Firm. Our experienced South Carolina personal injury attorneys will fight to defend your character and protect your interests, while helping you get compensation for damages you have suffered.