Branham v. Celadon Trucking Services, Inc., 744 N.E.2d 514 (Ind.App.2001). In an Indiana claim involving defamation per se, the plaintiff does not need to prove actual damages.
Indiana applies the "actual malice" standard of fault in defamation claims involving private figures if the disputed statements are newsworthy or involve matters of public concern. Journal-Gazette Co. v. Bandido's, Inc., 712 N.E.2d 130 (Ind. 2006). Most states apply a negligence standard in defamation claims involving public figures. See the general page on actual malice and negligence for details on this standard.
Privileges and Defenses
Indiana courts recognize a number of privileges and defenses in the context of defamation actions, including substantial truth, the opinion and fair comment privileges, and the fair report privilege. Indiana has not recognized or rejected the neutral reportage privilege and has not yet considered the wire service defense.
There also is an important provision under section 230 of the Communications Decency Act that may protect you if a third party – not you or your employee or someone acting under your direction – posts something on your blog or website that is defamatory. We cover this protection in more detail in the section on Publishing the Statements and Content of Others.
Neutral Reportage Privilege
Indiana has not explicitly recognized or rejected the neutral reportage privilege. The sole case law on the issue is a 7th Circuit decision that upheld an unpublished Indiana federal court judgment but declined to address the issue of neutral reportage. Woods v. Evansville Press Co., 791 F.2d 480 (7th Cir. 1986). The federal trial court had recognized and applied the privilege, but the 7th Circuit affirmed on other grounds.
Wire Service Defense