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Pittsburgh Woman’s Defamation Suit Against Bill Cosby Is Dismissed In Court

Bill Cosby, who has been the subject of a national scandal, recently won a court victory when a federal judge (U.S. District Judge Arthur Schwab) in Pennsylvania dismissed a civil lawsuit filed against him by one of the five-dozen women who have accused him of drugging and/or sexually assaulting them.  A woman named Renita Hill filed a defamation suit against Cosby in October 2015, claiming that Cosby’s denial of her rape allegations suggested she was a “liar and extortionist.” She is one of several of Cosby’s accusers who have filed suit for the ‘wrongdoing’ in Cosby’s denial of the allegations. Ms. Hill’s suit was denied with prejudice and she will not be allowed to amend the claim to re-file it.

Libel and Slander as a Personal Injury

Not all torts result in physical bodily harm. Some cause harm to one’s reputation instead. Both slander and libel fall under the category of personal injury, and these injurious offenses are actionable for damages under the federal and state laws. What are they?

Libel and slander for fall under the fulcrum of defamation. Defamation is a common law tort, which is generally defined as any statement that damages one’s reputation and causes them harm. The key difference is that libel must be a written /published harmful statement, while slander may be a spoken / orally conveyed. In Tennessee, libel and slander are then two different causes of action that have two different statutes of limitation.

For libel the lawsuit must be commenced/ filed within one year in which the action occurred. The ‘action’ that occurs happens on the date the harmful  writing is published or communicated to others.  Slander, on the other hand, has a shorter, six month statute of limitations. The cause of action occurs when the harmful words are spoken. It should be noted that the ‘discovery rule,’ which starts the ‘clock’ when the plaintiff discovers the injury, does not apply to slander lawsuits. The lawsuit must be commenced within 6 months after the words are uttered.

Further, harmful statements can’t simply be annoying or embarrassing. They must be reasonably construed to holding the public up to hatred, contempt, or ridicule. Lastly, one’s statement of pure opinion is not actionable. The statement must convey that the speaker/writer had some other undisclosed information to base his statement on, in order to be actionable.

Nashville Personal Injury and Civil Litigation Attorneys

Now, more than ever, people have the ability to share information and express their thoughts with others through social media. Sometimes the rumor mill gets out of control, and people suffer at school, work, or in their personal lives. The office of Calhoun Law, PLC in Nashville represents people and families in the cases of accident, civil litigation, and business disputes. We will aggressively pursue all your claims to protect you, and to maximize your compensation. If you have been harmed physically or emotionally, contact us today for a free and confidential consultation.

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