States or implies that a person is infected with a sexually transmitted disease; or
States or implies that the person has committed a crime of moral turpitude (e.g., theft or fraud).
See the State Law: Defamation section of this guide for specific information on what each state recognizes.
If a plaintiff succeeds in proving defamation, he or she is entitled to recover what is called compensatory damage, which is the payment of money to compensate the plaintiff for the wrong that has been done. This includes not only out-of-pocket expenses (e.g., doctor's bills), but also personal humiliation, mental anguish and suffering, and lost wages and benefits if the defamation caused the plaintiff to lose employment. In limited circumstances, a plaintiff may also be able to recover punitive damages, which are awarded in addition to compensatory damages and are intended to punish the defendant.
Note that some states require that a plaintiff must first ask the defendant to correct or remove the defamatory statement in order to be entitled to certain types of damages. See the section on Correcting or Retracting Your Work After Publication for more information.
Parallel Legal Claims Based on Allegedly False Statements
It is common for defamation plaintiffs to assert not only a claim for defamation, but also claims for infliction of emotional distress, interference with business relationships, etc., arising out of the same allegedly false statements. These parallel claims will ordinarily be subject to the same limitations, privileges and defenses as the main defamation claim. For more information, see our section on Other Falsity-Based Legal Claims.
Other Falsity-Based Legal Claims