General 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 (negligence or actual malice, depending on the person’s status as private or public figure).
See also Cal. Civ. Code § 44 (“Defamation is effected by either of the following: (a) Libel. (b) Slander.”).
A false and unprivileged oral communication attributing to a person specific misdeeds or certain unfavorable characteristics or qualities, or uttering certain other derogatory statements regarding a person, constitutes slander.
Shively v. Bozanich, 31 Cal. 4th 1230, 1242 (2003).
Slander is a false and unprivileged publication, orally uttered, and also communications by radio or any mechanical or other means which:
1. Charges any person with crime, or with having been indicted, convicted, or punished for crime;
2. Imputes in him the present existence of an infectious, contagious, or loathsome disease;
3. Tends directly to injure him in respect to his office, profession, trade or business, either by imputing to him general disqualification in those respects which the office or other occupation peculiarly requires, or by imputing something with reference to his office, profession, trade, or business that has a natural tendency to lessen its profits;
4. Imputes to him impotence or a want of chastity; or
5. Which, by natural consequence, causes actual damage.
Cal. Civ. Code § 46 (“Slander defined”).
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.: Comstock v. Aber, 212 Cal. App. 4th 931, 948 n.12 (2012) (definition of slander); Summit Bank v. Rogers, 206 Cal. App. 4th669, 695 (2012) (elements of defamation).
California 2d Dist.: Tamkin v. CBS Broadcasting, Inc., 193 Cal. App. 4th 133, 145 (2011) (definition of slander).
California 3d Dist.: Burrill v. Nair, 217 Cal. App. 4th 357, 382-83 (2013).
California 4th Dist.: Sanders v. Walsh,219 Cal. App. 4th 855, 862 (2013) (elements of defamation); City of Costa Mesa v. D’Alessio Investments, LLC, 214 Cal. App. 4th 358, 375 (2013) (definition of slander).
California 5th Dist.: None.
California 6th Dist.:Wong v. Jing, 189 Cal. App. 4th 1354, 1369 (2010) (elements of defamation); Monterey Plaza Hotel v. Hotel Employees Local 483, 69 Cal. App. 4th 1057, 1064 (1999) (definition of slander).
CALIFORNIA FEDERAL COURTS
United States Court of Appeal for the 9th Circuit: Phoenix Trading, Inc. v. Loops LLC, 732 F.3d 936, 944 (9th Cir. 2013) (elements of defamation); Crowe v. County of San Diego, 608 F.3d 406, 442 (9th Cir. 2010) (definition of slander).
Central District: Perlow v. Mann, No. 2:13-cv-00749-ODW(SHx), 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 151860, at *12 (C.D. Cal. Oct. 22, 2013) (definition of slander);Meza v. Meza, No. SA CV 12-01777-GAF (VBK), 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 77225, at *36-37 (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); Collins v. Walgreen Co., No. 1:12-cv-1780 AWI-BAM, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 81422, at *13 (E.D. Cal. June 10, 2013) (definition of slander).
Northern District: Hutchins v. Bank of America, N.A., No. 13-cv-03242-JCS, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 154495, at *54-55 n.3 (N.D. Cal. Oct. 28, 2013) (definition of slander); 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).
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); Carvajal v. Pride Indus., No. 10CV2319-GPC(MDD), 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 57435, at *32-33 (S.D. Cal. Apr. 22, 2013) (definition of slander).