Visitor Question

Can a Mayor and a finance clerk sue me for character assassination?

Submitted By: E (New Mexico)

My husband and I opened a produce market. We are planning on expanding our existing building. We submitted all the legal applications required by the state of New Mexico.

During the course of waiting for the permits, my husband, who is a contractor, started locating the electrical lines.

There is a spring of water that runs underneath our building, and we want to put in some form of drainage system to keep the spring from damaging our interior floors, which it has started to do.

Well, people saw this going on and we got red tagged by the Construction Industry Department. Someone had reported us. Everyone that went into our market would make suggestions as to who had reported us. The names that came up ninety percent of the time were the Mayor and the finance clerk for the Village.

Everyone knows they do not want growth in the village. When I heard it from a reliable source I believed it. So when people asked who had reported us, I said supposedly the mayor and the clerk. Word got to them.

I was sent a registered letter stating this was character assassination. The mayor and the finance clerk also stated in the letter, that I had said I had a document with their signatures. I NEVER made such a statement.

Can I be sued by these public officials?

They also made a false accusation of me. What recourse do I have? Thank You.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear E,

While anyone can file a lawsuit for just about any reason, there’s no guarantee it will succeed. Your apparent implication is whether or not the Mayor and Finance Clerk have the grounds for a defamation suit against you.

To have the basis of either a libel or slander defamation suit, the mayor and/or finance clerk must be able to prove your statements accused them of acts of moral turpitude. These can include theft, assault, sexual crimes, and other serious crimes.

Moreover, the mayor or finance clerk would have to prove such statements, whether written or oral, resulted in their respective financial losses.

Your statements didn’t didn’t include allegations of acts of moral turpitude. Moreover, it is unlikely the mayor or finance clerk suffered any financial losses resulting from your actions.

Even if the mayor or finance clerk were able to prove you had a document with their signatures on it, that in and of itself would not be sufficient for them to have a viable legal claim against you. As a result, it appears you have little to be concerned about.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: July 15, 2014

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