What is a public figure in the context of defamation?
Minneapolis litigator David Olsen of Henson & Efron discusses defamation and public figures.
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Well, in defamations, you have what are known as private defamation suits for private people and you have public figure suits. A public figure who claims he was defamed is someone that would be a politician, a celebrity in today’s world, athletes, people who are on television, and there’s also what’s called limited purpose public figures. A limited purpose public figure can be a public figure just for, like it says, one small purpose. You can be thrust into the news because you participated in an event. You could have spoken out publically because you believe in an issue. There are any number of ways to do that. But if you’re a public figure, then the different rules apply as far as what needs to be proved for defamation. It’s hard to prove defamation against a public figure because they are in the public light, and they should expect to be criticized.