Legal Question in Civil Litigation in Missouri

Can I sue for defamation?

A man accused me of sexual misconduct concerning his child.

The mother of the child is an old friend of mine; the father has been harassing the mother to the point of filing

an ex parte order against him.

In Missouri, reports to the Division of Family Services are confidential. Can I still sue him for defamation? I was

cleared by DFS.


Asked on 10/03/03, 7:57 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Mark Reiter Law Office of Mark A. Reiter, LLC

Re: Can I sue for defamation?

Defamation requires publication to a third party. Meaning someone other than the speaker and yourself must have heard the speaker's defamatory comments. In addition, an action for defamation requires proof that the defendant knew or should have known that the

communication was false. Furthermore, how the speaker made the defamatory comments can effect whether you have a viable claim. For example, if the speaker's comments were couched as an opinion rather than as a statement of fact, it becomes much more difficult to make a claim for defamation. Finally, you have to be able to show that your reputation was damaged by the defamatory comments. Certain defamatory statements that are particularly egregious may shift the burden of proof to the speaker that you were not damaged. Either way, the element of damages is a critical one for a private person's (meaning, not a public figure or celebrity) claim of defamation.

If you would like to discuss your situation further and are located in the western half of Missouri, you are welcome to give me a call.

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Answered on 10/04/03, 9:42 am

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