Can I Bring a Defamation Lawsuit For Facebook Posts?

By March 6, 2023Blog, Defamation

A defamation lawsuit cannot be brought for opinion or a true statement. Opinion is protected free speech.  Generally, defamation results from a false statement.  An exception can occur when true facts are used in a way that paints someone in a false light.

Defamation requires the following elements:

1) False, and

2) Defamatory Statement(s),

3) Published with  knowledge of,  or in reckless disregard as to, falsity, and

4) Damages.  Jews for Jesus, Inc., v. Rapp, 997 So. 2d 1098 (Fla. 2008).

Before filing a defamation case, ask yourself:

1)  What are my damages? You can recover for harm to reputation, but lost income and documented psychological (counseling) and related health issues make it more likely that a jury will award money.

2)  Do I have the money to sue?  Most attorneys will not take a defamation case on a contingency retainer (no up-front fee) because defamation cases require a lot of work and do not have a certain outcome.  Even if you represent yourself (not a good idea), determine whether you have the budget for case costs – filing fee, service, depositions, investigation, etc. – and the time away from employment.

3)  Is the lawsuit worth my time and energy? Your attorney will need you to be very involved in prosecuting your case.  You can expect the other side to ask you to answer interrogatories (questions), request records, and take your deposition.

4)  Do I have clean hands? If you have engaged in a back-and-forth with the defamer, a jury will be less likely to award damages.

5)  Is there another way to combat the defamation?  Sometimes, but rarely, replying to defamatory posts can clarify the issue.  Friends can stick up for you and sometimes humor can make the other person look ridiculous.  Keep in mind, a tit-for-tat social media argument often pulls both people down into the mud.

These considerations aside, it is sometimes necessary to take a stand.  Many people erroneously think that the right to free speech allows them to defame other people.  Too often in Brevard County, Florida, defamation is done for the sake of politics and remaining TikTok relevant.  (I wonder if Alex Jones still thinks it was worth it.)

If you have a strong defamation case, feel free to contact me:

Jessica J. Travis, Attorney, DefendBrevard.com, 1370 Bedford Drive, Suite 104, Melbourne, Florida, 32937, 321-728-7280, contact@DefendBrevard.com,  www.DefendBrevard.com.

If you have a defamation case, do not rely on this article for legal advice.  Consult with an attorney.

February 24, 2023.