Can My Small Business Sue For Defamation?

You can because defamation can destroy your reputation and, subsequently, your business’s ability to generate revenue. The larger question centers on defamation and what you must prove to win a lawsuit. Social media and easily accessible websites make it easy for virtually anyone to write a review of your goods or services. Is it considered defamation if you receive a negative review that appears on a basic Google search? What if people openly talk to others about your business while saying untrue things? 

Do Either of Those Scenarios Count as Defamation?

For something to be defamation, it has to be published. However, that doesn’t mean defamation can only occur in a newspaper, online review, or book. The act of publishing merely means it was conveyed to a third party. In several states, defamation in written form is libel, and when it is spoken, it is slander—but Virginia does not use these terms. Whether it is spoken or written, it is simply referred to as defamation. 

The second key point to cover is that the statement has to be false. When someone makes a statement about your business, you and your attorney must prove it is false. Some statements or claims are subjective. In other words, someone may write a review that your coffee shop sells terrible-tasting coffee. Although that may dissuade others from visiting your store, the reviewer merely expressed an opinion. It is unlikely that you have grounds to pursue a defamation case. 

You also need to understand the difference between something being substantially true versus entirely true. Think about a scenario where someone writes that no one should visit a coffee store because the owner embezzled money from charities and spent five years in prison. However, the owner only spent three years in jail for their crimes. Even though the statement isn’t 100% accurate, the sentiment it expresses is. 

Lastly, simply because something is false doesn’t make it defamatory. Someone could accidentally include the wrong address for your coffee shop in a review. Despite it being inaccurate, it is likely not defamation. Here are examples of what constitutes defamation:

  • Statements made connecting a person to a crime of moral turpitude.
  • Comments about someone having a contagious disease.
  • Saying or writing that someone is unfit to hold a position or can uphold a duty. 
  • Claims of prejudice against a person in a profession or trade. 

Get in Touch with an Attorney to Discuss Your Defamation Case 

Several other factors must be considered before moving forward with a defamation case. For instance, there is the intent behind the statement and whether the person it was made against was a public figure. To determine whether you have a case, we need to learn more about the specifics of your legal issue. Contact the Law Offices of Robert Dawson to schedule a consultation today.

The following two tabs change content below.

Law Office of Robert Dawson

You have more power than you realize. If you need a professional attorney who has built a reputation within employment and business law, contact the Law Offices of Robert Dawson. We are passionate about protecting our clients and pursuing their interests. Contact us for tailored legal solutions.

Latest posts by Law Office of Robert Dawson (see all)