Elements of Defamation:
- Defendant intentionally publishes a statement of fact that is:
- Has a natural tendency to injure or which causes special damage; and
- The defendant’s fault in publishing the statement amounts to at least negligence.
See also Cal. Civ. Code § 44 (“Defamation is effected by either of the following: (a) Libel. (b) Slander.”).
Libel is a false and unprivileged publication by writing, printing, picture, effigy, or other fixed representation to the eye, which exposes any person to hatred, contempt, ridicule, or obloquy, or which causes him to be shunned or avoided, or which has a tendency to injure him in his occupation.
Cal. Civ. Code § 45 (Definition of libel); see Shively v. Bozanich, 31 Cal. 4th 1230, 1242 (2003) (“a written communication that is false, that is not protected by any privilege, and that exposes a person to contempt or ridicule or certain other reputational injuries, constitutes libel”).
A defamation claim against a public figure, a public official and government defendants requires publication with actual malice, meaning “knowledge of falsity or reckless disregard of the truth.” Nadel v. Regents of Univ. of Cal., 28 Cal. App. 4th 1251, 1254-1255 (1994) (citing N.Y. Times v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254, 279-280 (1964)).
“A private person need prove only negligence (rather than malice) to recover for defamation.” Brown v. Kelly Broad. Co., 48 Cal. 3d 711, 742 (1989) (citing Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc., 418 U.S. 323, 347 (1974)).
CALIFORNIA STATE COURTS
California Supreme Court:Shively v. Bozanich, 31 Cal. 4th 1230, 1242 (2003).
California 1st Dist.: Summit Bank v. Rogers, 206 Cal. App. 4th669, 695 (2012).
California 2d Dist.: Tamkin v. CBS Broadcasting, Inc., 193 Cal. App. 4th 133, 145 (2011).
California 3d Dist.: Burrill v. Nair, 217 Cal. App. 4th 357, 382 (2013).
California 4th Dist.: Sanders v. Walsh,219 Cal. App. 4th 855, 862 (2013).
California 5th Dist.: In re Rolando S., 197 Cal. App. 4th 936, 946-47 (2011) (definition of libel).
California 6th Dist.: Wong v. Jing, 189 Cal. App. 4th 1354, 1369 (2010).
CALIFORNIA FEDERAL COURT
United States Court of Appeal for the 9th Circuit: Gorman v. Wolpoff & Abramson, LLP, 584 F.3d 1147, 1167-68 (2009) (definition of libel); Phoenix Trading, Inc. v. Loops LLC, 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 20320, at *18 (9th Cir. 2013) (elements of defamation).
Central District: Perlow v. Mann, No. 2:13-cv-00749-ODW(SHx), 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 151860, at *12-13 (C.D. Cal. Oct. 22, 2013) (definition of libel);Meza v. Meza, No. SA CV 12-01777-GAF (VBK), 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 77225, at *36 (C.D. Cal. May 2, 2013) (elements of defamation).
Eastern District: Gorrell v. Sneath, No. 1:12-cv-00554 - JLT, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 142712, at *27 (E.D. Cal. Sept. 30, 2013) (elements of defamation and definition of libel).
Northern District:Rieger v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., No. 3:13-CV-00749 JSC, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 103032, at * 15-16 (N.D. Cal. July 23, 2013) (elements of defamation and definition of libel).
Southern District: Visant Corp. v. Barrett, No. 13cv389 WQH (WVG), 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 95696, at *14 (S.D. Cal. July 9, 2013) (elements of defamation and definition of libel).