What are the defenses to libel or slander?
Minneapolis litigator David Olsen of Henson & Efron discusses the defenses to libel and slander.
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Well, like I mentioned earlier, probably the best defense is to prove that the statement is true and that the plaintiff has the burden to prove falsity. If the plaintiff can’t prove falsity, then you lose right there. There’s also certain privileges. You can make statements and they may be false, but you can’t be sued for them. The best example probably is a statement made during a court proceeding if somebody. If somebody testifies in court and it turns out their testimony’s not true, they can’t be sued for defamation because of that. They may get a perjury charge, but they can’t be sued for defamation. And the other primary defense is there’s no harm to reputation. A lot of statements are untrue. Somebody could say about me, “He’s 35 years old.” That’s not true, but it’s also not defamatory and it doesn’t in any damage my reputation. In fact, it’d probably make me look a lot better, but…