Yes, a Colorado business can sue for defamation, and the elements for business defamation are the same whether the plaintiff is a business or an individual.
To have a cause of action for defamation, there must be (1) a publication of (2) a false statement of defamatory fact that (3) results in damages.
When discussing defamation, you may hear the terms “libel” and “slander” mentioned.
Libel and slander are treated similarly for a Colorado defamation lawsuit, with libel being a written statement and slander being an oral statement.
ELEMENT OF PUBLICATION
Regarding defamation, publication means that the statement has been somehow communicated to a third party. Therefore, the defamatory statement need not be “published” for the entire world to see; Simply speaking or writing to a third party is required.
The term “publication” does not refer solely to newspapers, magazines, and word-of-mouth advertising. It can also refer to statements made online, like reviews and posts on social media, in addition to statements generally made to a third person either orally or in writing.
ELEMENT OF “FALSE STATEMENT OF A DEFAMATORY FACT”
People have opinions, and speaking one’s mind is not a form of defamation. In today’s digital world, anyone can comment on a business and quickly post on social media or write a company or product review. When making consumer decisions, these posts and reviews are used more frequently. The law says that a statement of fact, not just an opinion, is required for defamation.
The Courts look at a statement’s content, tone, and context to see if it can reasonably be understood as stating a provable fact when deciding whether it is a fact or an opinion. The judge or jury may have difficulty determining whether a statement is an “opinion” or a “fact.” When it comes to business defamation, figuring out whether a statement is fact or opinion involves substantial legal nuance. If a court determines that a statement is a mere opinion, the First Amendment to the Constitution provides protection if a statement does not imply a fact or what can reasonably be understood as a statement of fact.
An example of a statement of opinion is: The food at this restaurant is disgusting. Nevertheless, an illustration of a factual statement is: There are mice all over this restaurant.” In defamation cases, freedom of speech is frequently used as a defense. Attorneys representing a freedom of speech defense must be familiar with Colorado and federal constitutional laws.
Also, the statement must be false. You may have heard the statement, “truth is a defense.” This is accurate in defamation; if the allegedly defamatory comment is the actual truth, the defamation action losses.
It is essential to have a Denver business lawyer who is familiar with past case law and current court trends. Your attorney needs to be able to apply old law to new technology as technology evolves.
ELEMENT OF DAMAGES
In most cases, the defamatory statement must have caused actual harm for a lawsuit to be successful. The defamatory statement must harm the company’s reputation, discourage others from doing business with it, or diminish the company’s standing within the community.
Only a few exceptions to the requirement of damages are permitted in Colorado. For instance, no proof of damages is required if the defamatory statement defames a company by exposing it to public hostility.
In every defamation case, absolute privilege is a complete defense. Statements made in judicial proceedings, legislative proceedings, executive communications, the plaintiff’s consent, statutory confidential relationships, and instances where there is a legal requirement to publish defamatory matters are protected statements that cannot be the basis of a defamation lawsuit.
There are limited situations that allow for a qualified privilege. Businesses cannot bring defamation lawsuits against people for leaving a critical but fair review.
This privilege is “qualified” because if the person is entitled to the qualified freedom, the plaintiff can still win the defamation case if they can prove the statement was made maliciously or recklessly.
Contact a Business Lawyer Denver Residents Trusts
When you are having any business issues, whether it be litigation or transactional, it is important to speak with a Denver business attorney. To speak with one, contact Baker Law Group today.
Do not let your business be harmed by defamation. If you are the victim of a defamatory statement or need expert representation against a defamation claim, don’t hesitate to contact Baker Law Group at (303) 862-4564.