State Law: Defamation

 

Choose a state from the list below for state-specific information on defamation law. For general information on defamation and false light, see the section on Publishing Information that Harms Another's Reputation.

Arizona Defamation Law

Note: This page covers information specific to Arizona. For general information concerning defamation, see the Defamation Law section of this guide.

Arizona Elements of Defamation

In Arizona, the elements of a defamation claim are:

a false statement concerning the plaintiff;
the statement was defamatory;
the statement was published to a third party;
the requisite fault on the part of the defendant; and
the plaintiff was damaged as a result of the statement.
Morris v. Warner, 160 Ariz. 55, 62 (Ariz. Ct. App. 1988).

To be “defamatory,” a statement must be false and bring the defamed person into disrepute, contempt, or ridicule, or impeach her honesty, integrity, virtue, or reputation. Godbehere v. Phoenix Newspapers, Inc., 162 Ariz. 335, 341 (Ariz. 1989).

These elements of a defamation claim in Arizona are similar to the elements discussed in the general Defamation Law section, with the following exceptions:

Defamation Per Se

Arizona distinguishes between statements that constitute libel per se and libel per quod. Libel per se are written communications which “on their face and without the aid of any extrinsic matter” tend to “bring any person into disrepute, contempt or ridicule” or “impeach the honesty, integrity, virtue or reputation.” Ilitzky v. Goodman, 57 Ariz. 216, 220‑21 (Ariz. 1941). In contrast, libel per quod consists of written communications which “on their face do not fall within the definition [of defamation] but which by reason of special extraneous circumstances actually do.” Id. at 221.

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