August 17, 2022
Types of Plaintiffs in a Business Defamation Action
What is Business Defamation Action?
When we talk about business defamation action, we’re referring to the legal term defamation. Which is an untrue statement about someone or a business made to a third party that causes damage to that person or business’s reputation. To sue someone for defamation, you, the plaintiff, must:
- Meet the court’s filing requirements
- Gather evidence
- Have your lawyer draft and file the necessary documents at the correct courthouse
- Have the other party served with a copy of the complaint
Proving Commercial Defamation
In order to prove commercial defamation, you must first know which type of defamation you are dealing with. The case can be thrown out if you get the type of defamation wrong.
- Libel: This is defamation in written form.
- Slander: This is defamation in spoken form.
Beyond this distinction, proving defamation will depend on the type of plaintiff you are dealing with. The plaintiff is the person who starts the lawsuit and will be the person who claims they have been defamed.
Types of Defamation Plaintiffs
The legal standards for proving defamation are very different depending on which type of plaintiff is involved: a private individual or a public figure.
- Private figures: Private figures, or ordinary individuals, need to prove that the other person was to blame and that he or she acted negligently in order to win a defamation case.
- Public figures: Public officials, celebrities, TV/radio personalities, and influencers must meet a more strict standard to prove they have been defamed. Those who have achieved a prominent role in society, who seek public attention, are public figures for the purpose of a defamation case. Public figures must prove that the defendant’s actions were malicious and done with the intent to cause harm.
In other words, private figures really only need to show that careless and inaccurate statements were made. Public figures must show that inaccurate statements were made on purpose. This is why most commercial defamation plaintiffs will try to argue that they are private citizens.
Private Citizens vs. Public Figures
The Supreme Court has ruled that it is important for public debate and free speech to hold public figures to a different standard than private citizens. In 1964, the Supreme Court said that the First Amendment established a higher burden of proof for public figures to be defamed. Having vastly easier access to appear on TV, be interviewed on the radio, or give a rebuttal in a press conference, public figures also have a much easier time defending themselves against inaccurate statements made about them. This is another reason for the different burden of proof.
By not stepping into the limelight, private citizens have not invited scrutiny of their actions. For this reason, courts offer private citizens greater defamation protection.
Do You Need a New Jersey Commercial Defamation Lawyer?
If your business or brand has been under fire, whether you are a private or a public figure, Varcadipane & Pinnisi can help. We are New Jersey defamation lawyers (we handle both libel and slander). Contact our office today to stop the damage to your reputation and restore your integrity in the community now.