The introduction of Web sites, blogs, and social media has encouraged greater communication, but also a greater number of defamation cases. At Strassburger McKenna Gutnick & Gefsky, our free speech attorneys help citizens, bloggers, and media publishers and their employees defend themselves against frivolous charges of defamation that, left unanswered, would deny the public’s access to freely accessible, accurate information and analysis.
Defamation generally manifests in two forms:
In both instances, the remarks must have caused injury to the reputation of an organization or person. In a slander case, the plaintiff must prove the defendant has made a false statement about the plaintiff in front of witnesses. In a libel case, the burden is on the defendant to prove his statement was not false. If the plaintiff is a public official or a public figure, they also will have the burden of proving malicious intent.
Laws governing defamation vary from state to state, but Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia laws follow essentially the same precepts. The statutes of limitations for filing a defamation suit are one year in Pennsylvania and Ohio, and two years in West Virginia.
For decades, some businesses and government officials have targeted citizens and organizations who speak out against them with SLAPPs (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation). These defamation suits are filed primarily to intimidate critics with the prospect of an expensive court battle. Ohio and West Virginia do not carry anti-SLAPP statutes, but Pennsylvania does, restricted only to persons and groups petitioning the government over environmental issues.
The attorneys at Strassburger McKenna Gutnick & Gefsky regularly represent individuals, media, and other organizations against SLAPPs and other defamation lawsuits and help them obtain injunctive relief if not monetary awards, as well as recover legal costs. To learn how we can help you, please contact Ronald D. Barber at firstname.lastname@example.org.