As discussed elsewhere in this guide, there are substantial privileges and defenses available to defendants in defamation actions. The First Amendment and related state law doctrines that protect speech often present insurmountable obstacles for defamation plaintiffs. In response, plaintiffs often attempt to evade rather than overcome these obstacles by relabeling their defamation claims as another form of legal claim.

In lawsuits based upon allegedly false speech, it is common for plaintiffs to include a wide variety of ancillary claims in addition to their main defamation claim. Common additional claims include:

Intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress
Tortious interference with contract or business relations
"False light" invasion of privacy
Unfair or deceptive trade practices
Fraud or misrepresentation
State or federal civil rights act violations
Conspiracy to commit defamation
Each of these claims has its own elements and defenses, which an attorney can assist you to understand (see especially our section on "false light" claims). However, a number of courts, including the United States Supreme Court, have raised additional concerns when such claims are premised upon allegations that the defendant published a false statement that damaged the plaintiff's reputation -- i.e., the classic defamation lawsuit fact pattern.

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