Williams and Walsh - Civil Litigation

Defamation / Slander

A person’s reputation is priceless. It can take a lifetime to build and seconds to harm or destroy with the broadcast of written or spoken words. In South Carolina, a person may bring an action for Defamation in a court of law for damage to one’s reputation caused by the false statements of another, written or spoken, that are intended to hurt or damage the person’s reputation. Defamation can occur in two forms: Libel and/or Slander. Libel is defamation by either writing or printing such as in newspapers, magazines, and on the internet, or by signage, pictures, etc. Slander, on the other hand, is defamation through spoken words.

Defamation requires proof that: (1) a false and defamatory statement was made (2) which was of and concerning the plaintiff (3) which was published to a third party and (4) resulted in damages to plaintiff’s reputation. Restatement (Second) of Torts §558 (1977). A person must typically prove material or monetary damages such as loss of customers, clients, employment, or contractual benefits for example before they can claim damages for emotional distress or humiliation for example. HOWEVER, certain false statements are actionable per se such as claims that a person (1) has committed a crime; (2) has a loathsome disease; (3) is unchaste (immoral); or (4) has committed conduct that affects his/her performance of business, trade, profession, or office. In these situations, material and monetary damages are presumed and can also be demonstrated with a showing of loss of business, injury to business or professional reputation etc. Truth is a defense to a Defamation action.

With the onslaught of the internet, lies are being told about people, businesses, and companies every day. Defamation of a person, business’, or company’s character on the internet is routine and often caught and indexed by major search engines such as Google, Yahoo, or Bing making the spread of the lies a thousand fold and accessible to all.

Once a person, business, or company is defamed, the consequences are endless: loss of employment; loss of contracts; loss of clients; loss of revenue; inability to obtain new employment; inability to secure new clients; etc. You can lose it all.

The Constitution protects every person’s right to free speech but it does not grant people the right to harm another person’s reputation – personal, professional or business reputation – with false statements. At Williams & Walsh we are experienced in protecting and ensuring our clients’ reputations are protected and offenders are held accountable. We will work hard to assist you in removing the defamed material from the search engines, indexes, websites, and/or blogs on the internet when applicable. We will work hard to recover money for the damages to your or your business’ reputation.

“A reputation once broken may possibly be repaired, but the world will always keep their eyes on the spot where the crack was.” Joseph Hall

“A single lie destroys a whole reputation of integrity.” Baltasar Gracian

“A good reputation is more valuable than money.” Publilius Syrus

“At ev’ry word a reputation dies” Alexander Pope