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Defamation

Facts
Tom Harris and Jake Carson had been sports and political leaders and rivals ever since high school. Throughout high school they competed at the same level vigorously and routinely came out in 1st or 2nd place regularly. This continued in college sports and leadership roles, but the issues came into play when they went to rival colleges and fraternities. In the fall of their senior year at the University, Tom and Jake both decided to run for student body president and the mudslinging started during the campaign. Rumors came out and were traced back to the rival fraternity that Jake was gay. The candidates presented skits the night before election, the skits were half serious and half jest. In Jakeâ??s skit, Jake neatly poked fun at Tom and emphasized how he, Jake, was the better candidate. Then for Tomâ??s skit, it was a doctor scene. When the doctor came into the room, the doctor told Jake that he better sit down, he had good news and bad news for him. The good news was that most of the tests came back negative and he should make a great student body president. The bad news was that him and Magic Johnson have something in common, they both have tested positive for HIV-positive. Tom won the election by two thirds of the vote.

Issues

1. Although Tom claims that his statement that Jake was HIV-positive was made in jest, would the words give rise to an action for slander?

2. Could Jake be considered a public official or public figure in a slander action brought by him, and, if he is considered a public official or public figure, will it make any difference in the lawsuit?

Continue the office memorandum use the issues stated above. Include answer to above issues, Reasoning, Reasoning for issue one, conclusion of issue one, resasoning for issue two, conclusion for issue two)

Solution Preview

Generally speaking, defamation is the issuance of a false statement about another person, which causes that person to suffer harm. Spoken defamation is considered slander. Typically, the elements for a cause of action for slander are: a false statement concerning another, telling the statement to a third party, and damage to the plaintiff. Some jurisdictions also recognize "per se" defamation, where the allegations are presumed to cause damage to the plaintiff. Allegations that a person is infected with a sexually transmitted disease are often considered defamation "per se."

The most important defense to an action for defamation is "truth", which is an absolute defense to an action ...

Solution Summary

Generally speaking, defamation is the issuance of a false statement about another person, which causes that person to suffer harm. Spoken defamation is considered slander. Typically, the elements for a cause of action for slander are: a false statement concerning another, telling the statement to a third party, and damage to the plaintiff. Some jurisdictions also recognize "per se" defamation, where the allegations are presumed to cause damage to the plaintiff. Allegations that a person is infected with a sexually transmitted disease are often considered defamation "per se."

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