What are the steps for proving defamation in Oregon?


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Question:

What are the steps for proving defamation in Oregon?

Answer:

Proving defamation in Oregon involves several factors. One factor is whether the individual defamed is a private individual or a public figure. A claim of defamation involving a private individual usually has the same elements no matter the jurisdiction:

  1. Defamatory Statement - A defamatory statement involves a false and defamatory statement made about a private individual.  In most states, the individual does not need to prove malice. He or she must only show that the defamatory statement was false.
  2. Publication - The defamatory statement must have been made to another person or persons and there must be no applicable defense of privilege concerning the person making the statement (privilege usually goes to those in government).
  3. Injury to reputation - As in any civil case, there must be a showing of some injury. In this case, the injury must be to the defamed person’s reputation. However, slander (oral defamation) per se is actionable without proving special harm.  Slander per se includes utterances relating to the commission of a crime, the plaintiff’s business or occupation, or other inflammatory statements such as having a sexually transmitted disease or being morally corrupt.
  4. Falsity or Fault - The defamatory statement must either be false or negligently published because the publisher failed to ascertain the truth of his or her statement(s) before making them public.

Defense

The primary defense to a claim of defamation is that the statement is true. A true statement that is derogatory is not a defamatory statement. The same applies with a statement that involves an opinion.  An opinion is not considered a statement alleging an objective fact but is rather a personal observation. If a defendant claims he or she was expressing a personal opinion and not a statement of fact regarding the plaintiff, he or she can avoid liability. Privilege also avoids liability for defamation.

The best defense is obtaining the services of a skilled litigator to defend against charges. Talk with an attorney about defamation defenses in Oregon.

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