The Guide is an invaluable online tool for litigation and transactional attorneys. The Guide provides for more than 70 common law causes of action:

- Each action’s elements;
- The most recent state and federal cases that cite the actions’ elements;
- The applicable statute of limitations for each action; and
- Defenses to each cause of action.
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Defamation Trade Libel

1 Elements and Case Citations

“‘Trade libel is defined as an intentional disparagement of the quality of property, which results in pecuniary damage to plaintiff. . . . “Injurious falsehood, or disparagement, then, may consist of the publication of matter derogatory to the plaintiff’s title to his property, or its quality, or to his business in general, . . . [The] plaintiff must prove in all cases that the publication has played a material and substantial part inducing others not to deal with him, and that as a result he has suffered special damages. . . . Usually, . . . the damages claimed have consisted of loss of prospective contracts with the plaintiff's customers.”’”

“A cause of action for trade libel thus requires (at a minimum):

(1) a publication;
(2) which induces others not to deal with plaintiff; and
(3) special damages.”

Nichols v. Great American Ins. Cos., 169 Cal. App. 3d 766, 773 (1985).

CALIFORNIA STATE COURTS

Supreme Court of California: None.

California 1st District: Hofmann Co. v. E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., 202 Cal. App. 3d 390, 397 (1988).

California 2d District: Atlantic Mutual Ins. Co. v. J. Lamb, Inc., 100 Cal. App. 4th 1017, 1035 (2002).

California 3d District: Leonardini v. Shell Oil Co., 216 Cal. App. 3d 547, 572 (1989); Nichols v. Great Am. Ins. Cos., 169 Cal. App. 3d 766, 773 (1985).

California 4th District: City of Costa Mesa v. D’Alessio Investments, LLC, 214 Cal. App. 4th 358, 376 (2013); ComputerXpress, Inc. v. Jackson, 93 Cal. App. 4th 993, 1010 (2001).

California 5th District: None.

California 6th District: Barnes-Hind, Inc. v. Superior Court, 181 Cal. App. 3d 377, 381 (1986).

CALIFORNIA FEDERAL COURTS

United States Court of Appeal for the 9th Circuit: nSight, Inc. v. PeopleSoft, Inc., 296 Fed. Appx. 555, 560 (9th Cir. 2008); Microtec Research v. Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co., 40 F.3d 968, 972 (1994).

Central District: Rebel v. Aqua Connect, No. CV 13-4539 RSWL (MANx), 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 137937, at *9-10 (C.D. Cal. Sept. 24, 2013).

Eastern District: Passport Health, Inc. v. Travel Med, Inc., No. 2:09-CV-01753-GEB-JFM, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 46210, at *13-14 (E.D. Cal. May 11, 2010).

Northern District: Siebert v. Gene Sec. Network, No. 11-cv-01987-JST, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 149145, at *30-31 (N.D. Cal. Oct. 16, 2013).

Southern District: Visant Corp. v. Barrett, No. 13cv389 WQH (WVG), 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 95696, at *25 (S.D. Cal. July 9, 2013)

2 Issues and Defenses to Claim for Defamation Trade Libel

(1) Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 431.30(b)(2) (pleading affirmative defenses), and other standard defenses. See Chapter 1 for all defenses.

(2) Statute of Limitations: Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 339(a) (two years); see Guess, Inc. v. Superior Court, 176 Cal. App. 3d 473, 479 (1986).

(3) Opinions will not support a cause of action for trade libel. See Passport Health, Inc. v. Travel Med, Inc., No. 2:09-cv-01753-GEB-JFM, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 111201, at *15 (E.D. Cal. Nov. 13, 2009).

(4) Intent to Injure Not Necessary: “[I]t is not absolutely necessary that the disparaging publication be intentionally designed to injure. If the statement was understood in its disparaging sense and if the understanding is a reasonable construction of the language used or the acts done by the publisher, it is not material that the publisher did not intend the disparaging statement to be so understood.” Nichols v. Great American Ins. Cos., 169 Cal. App. 3d 766, 773 (1985).

(5) Type of Actionable Statement: To be actionable, the defamatory statement must be a false statement of fact; statements of opinion alone will not support a cause of action for trade libel. ComputerXpress, Inc. v. Jackson, 93 Cal. App. 4th 993, 1010 (2001).

(6) Distinction from defamation: “The basic difference between the two torts, it has been noted, is that an ‘action for defamation is designed to protect the reputation of the plaintiff, and the judgment vindicates that reputation, whereas the action for disparagement is based on pecuniary damage and lies only where such damage has been suffered.’” Leonardini v. Shell Oil Co., 216 Cal. App. 3d 547, 573 (1989).

(7) “Unlike personal defamation, the plaintiff seeking damages for trade libel must … carry the burden of proving that the disparaging statement is false.” See City of Costa Mesa v. D’Alessio Invs., LLC, 214 Cal. App. 4th 358, 378 (2013).

(8) A cause of action for damages for trade libel requires pleading and proof of special damages in the form of pecuniary loss. See Isuzu Motors Ltd. v. Consumers Union of U.S., Inc., 12 F. Supp. 2d 1035, 1046-47 (C.D. Cal. 1998).

(9) “To constitute trade libel, a statement must be false, but need not be malicious except in the sense that it was not privileged.” Leonardini v. Shell Oil Co., 216 Cal. App. 3d 547, 572 (1989).

(10) Cal. Civ. Code §47(c) grants a qualified privilege as to communications made without malice on subjects of mutual interest.