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The Fuzz

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Defamation law can apply to e-mails to your friends
« on: September 09, 2012, 01:02:48 PM »

Out of Canada, but just sayin'.....decent read.

http://www.torontosun.com/2012/09/07/defamation-law-can-apply-to-e-mails-to-your-friends

Defamation is a relatively obscure area of the law, one of little consequence to most people.

But it’s a subject newspaper publishers are forever worried about, as defamation lawsuits are often expensive as well as aggravating.

That’s why publishers retain lawyers to review contentious material prior to its dissemination to the public.

But defamation law also applies to any material published to even small groups and people can find themselves embroiled in a defamation lawsuit when they least expect it.

Take the case of Anne Bisaillon, who sent 38 e-mails to friends complaining about a furniture store, Prestige Furniture of Orleans.

Bisaillon was incensed at what she perceived as the shoddy treatment of her parents, who were unhappy with their dining room purchase.

So she sent an e-mail to 38 friends warning them away from Prestige Furniture, calling it an “untrustworthy” and “deceitful” company.

The problem for Bisaillon is that an e-mail sent to 38 people constitutes publication and labelling a company with those adjectives has the potential to lower the company’s reputation.

Many people don’t understand this, but a company is entitled to sue for defamation just as a person can.

Most companies shrug off defamatory statements, preferring to ignore them or to resolve the underlying issue without the glare of publicity.

But Prestige Furniture decided to sue Bisaillon.

Defamation law favours plaintiffs. They need only establish a statement capable of lowering their reputation has been published or communicated to at least one person, other than the person who is the subject of the statement.

Highly technical

The onus then falls on the defendant to establish a defence.

Defamation defences are highly technical and must be based on admissible evidence.

In this case, the two defences available were justification (a fancy way of referring to something that is true or substantially true), or fair comment (an expression of opinion related to an accurate or privileged statement on a matter of public interest).

Bisaillon was unable to rely on a justification defence because the facts didn’t support her claim Prestige Furniture was untrustworthy or deceitful.

So she tried to rely on a fair comment defence, which was rejected by the court.

Some of the reasons cited by the court for rejecting her defence were incorrect, which just goes to show even some judges find the technicalities of defamation law too difficult to navigate.

Having rejected Bisaillon’s defence, the court assessed the monetary award to be paid to Prestige Furniture for the damage to its reputation.

Since there was no evidence of any actual loss of business and the publication was to a relatively small group of people, the court only ordered Bisaillon to pay the sum of $15,000.

But in July, the court also ordered Bisaillon to contribute $25,000 towards Prestige Furniture’s legal fees.

On top of that, Bisaillon had her own lawyer’s bill.

Can be prevented

Most defamation litigation can be prevented or settled inexpensively.

This lawsuit could have been avoided had Bisaillon consulted with a lawyer prior to sending out the defamatory e-mail.

The lawyer would have moderated the language, or advised her not to hit the “send” button.

Most people wouldn’t have the foresight, or be willing to pay a lawyer, for vetting an e-mail.

But the litigation could also have been avoided had Bisaillon been willing to apologize after being notified that Prestige Furniture intended to commence a lawsuit.

Even after the lawsuit was started, it’s likely Prestige Furniture would have dropped the action had Bisaillon apologized.

Many defamation lawsuits are resolved by way of apology, without any money changing hands This incident started with the purchase of a dining room set and ended with a costly defamation lawsuit.

Don’t let it happen to you. Defamation law applies to all publications, including what may seem to be innocuous e-mails.
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Baggins

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Re: Defamation law can apply to e-mails to your friends
« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2012, 01:14:27 PM »

This forum is rife with it... 8*
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MM1

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Re: Defamation law can apply to e-mails to your friends
« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2012, 01:51:55 PM »

Interesting.

Reminds me of my drive home last weekend through Oregon on Rte 2, a home had a for sale sized  sign in their front yard facing the road that read:  "so & so" DOES NOT HONOR THEIR WARRANTIES

DEFINITELY made their point.  I wondered however if it was a legal thing to do. 

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MM1

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Re: Defamation law can apply to e-mails to your friends
« Reply #3 on: September 09, 2012, 02:01:34 PM »

 . . . . . and I also have to point out, because it drove nuts while reading . . .


the word is  DEFENSE!       NOT defence! 

I know, I know . . . . Definition of DEFENCE. chiefly British variant of defense.

But,  IT'S . . . .  DEFENSE!   



AAARRRRRGGGGGHHHH! ! ! ! !   ;D   ;D   ;D
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Frenchfry

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Re: Defamation law can apply to e-mails to your friends
« Reply #4 on: September 09, 2012, 11:06:58 PM »

The judgement was based on Canadian laws so I'm not sure US laws would allow such a broad interpretation.

But the story is a reminder to remain factual.

Informing without malice seems like a safer bet.
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This is what I see when I visit:

"Sorry Frenchfry, you are banned from posting and sending personal messages on this forum.
This ban is not set to expire."

No emails, no warnings, no communication whatsoever...just that ban

May be what happened to the other libs as well.

I guess disabling the report to admin link only on the lib side was indicative of the slanted games they play.

Enjoy your spoon-fed Faux News type right-wing echo-chamber.

Edited to add:

This is the only way to answer some of the questions posed:

1) I did nothing to warrant the banishment, it's political.

2) It's the router that's blocked but considering all the nonsense right-wing games being played by those running the site...it's just not worth it to bypass the banishment block.

3) The moron stalkers from MT contemplating a visit will be considered a threat and can expect to have a bad day if they act upon those idiotic thoughts.

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Re: Defamation law can apply to e-mails to your friends
« Reply #5 on: September 09, 2012, 11:10:25 PM »

   The GB commonwealth countries have gotten a bit more of the legalese shaft than we have here in the US, but only by a few months or so.  The "defendant" in the topical "case" agreed to become/act as the "defendant" and was automatically liable for the charge, period/end of story/pay up.  If nobody donned the "defendant" persona that would have been the end of the "Defamation Lawsuit."  Simple.  Legalese, people, is NOT English, even if it looks and sounds like it.
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