In our litigious culture, many people live in constant fear of being sued. Especially those who live or work in a public arena, it seems that anything someone says or does could be the fodder for an aggressive lawsuit.
However, there need not be this degree of fear. There are ways to avoid and defend against defamation.
A recent lawsuit against the New York Times
According to a report from Fox News online, online influencer Ariadna Jacob is suing the New York Times and reporter Taylor Lorenz for defamation. Jacob, who represents TikTok stars and other online influencers, claimed that Lorenz’s article misrepresented facts about Jacob and resulted in the loss of her client base.
The article in question, “Trying to Make It Big Online? Getting Signed Isn’t Everything”, painted an unsavory, and allegedly false, picture of Jacob, claiming, among other things, that “Jacob withheld money from clients, failed to come through on promises made to other clients and regularly pressured or intimidated her roster of influencers.”
How to defend against such a claim
For anyone who is facing a defamation claim of this kind, it is important to know how to defend against it, as some of the strategies need to be implemented long before the lawsuit comes to your door:
- Be right: One of the essential elements of defamation is that it is a false statement of fact. Therefore, showing that the statement is true will stop a defamation claim cold. In the Jacob-New York Times article, if Lorenz can show that the information publicized was true, it would immediately negate a defamation suit about the published statements.
- State opinions rather than fact: Since defamation is a false statement of fact, the other critical defense against a defamation claim is to show you were not trying to report facts at all, but merely your opinions, which by definition cannot be defamation. It doesn’t seem that the Times or Lorenz could make a credible case that their news report was actually an opinion piece, and even if it was, clearly some facts were alleged in the article.
- Dispute another aspect of the suit: In some cases, you might be able to dispute the damages claimed by the plaintiff. You might be able to claim that the report, while potentially damaging to the subject, was of such importance to the public that it justified the offense.
Whatever route you choose for your defense, you will need the counsel and help from an experienced attorney handling defamation defense.