Visitor Question

Internet review defamation?

Submitted By: Lori (USA)

I had previously sent a complaint to my state’s Department of Professional and Financial Regulation in reference to a Code of Ethics violation by a clinical psychologist. The case went to investigations for one and a half years and was mysteriously closed last September. I was unable to obtain any information with respect to the findings.

Also, I recently learned that the Statute of Limitations ran out because this occurred just over two years ago, and therefore I was unable to take action legally.

My question is, if I were to write a brief review on a website and frame it as ‘in my opinion’, could this potentially be used to my detriment as a type of defamation by this psychologist? Is there anything else I can do? 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 Lori,

There is a simple test for defamation. The test is absolute. Here it is:

If what you are saying or writing is the truth, then whatever you say, whether orally (slander) or in writing such as an email, letter, text, blog, etc. (libel) is privileged, and therefore not defamation.

With that said, the line between the truth and opinion can sometimes be blurred. If you are going to state your opinion in your blog you must be careful not to cross that line. While there is a simple test for defamation, the test for for determining whether your opinion is privileged is difficult to determine.

While you have every right to state your opinion, you must be sure not to cross that line. Defamation is defined as the communication of a false statement to a third person.

In other words, if you make a defamatory statement about a person and you communicate that statement to the person you are writing about, and no other persons hear or read what you say, then technically that is not defamation.

If though, there is a third party who hears or reads the defamatory statement, whether or not you intended for that third person or persons to read your opinion, then your statement can be considered defamation.

Defamation is defined as “The communication of a false statement to a third party which harms the reputation of of the person to whom the definition is directed.”

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: December 31, 2014

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