fault by the defendant amounting to at least negligence; and
the publication damaged the plaintiff.
The elements of a defamation claim in Illinois are for the most part similar to the elements listed in the general Defamation Law section, with the following exceptions:
Defamation Per Se
Illinois recognizes that certain statements constitute defamation per se. These statements are so egregious that they will always be considered defamatory and are assumed to harm the plaintiff's reputation, without further need to prove that harm. In Illinois, a statement that does any of the following things amounts to defamation per se:
accuses the plaintiff of committing a crime;
indicates that the plaintiff is infected with a loathsome communicable disease;
indicates that the plaintiff is unable to perform or lacks integrity in performing his or her employment duties;
attributes to the plaintiff a lack of ability or otherwise harms the plaintiff in his or her profession; or
accuses the plaintiff of engaging in adultery or fornication.
Solaia Tech., LLC v. Specialty Pub'g Co., 852 N.E.2d 825, 839 (Ill. 2006).
Actual Malice and Negligence
Illinois courts apply a unique "reasonable grounds" standard of negligence in defamation cases brought by private figures. This standard requires that the defendant either knew the publication was false or believed the publication was true but "lacked reasonable grounds for that belief." Troman v. Wood, 62 Ill.2d 1984, 299 (Ill. 1975). Thus, the Illinois negligence test resembles a slightly more lenient "actual malice" test. See the general page on actual malice and negligence for details on the terminology and standards referenced here.
Privileges and Defenses