Individuals who file lawsuits for defamation in Texas and around the country must provide convincing evidence that shows the allegedly defamatory statements were untrue. This can sometimes be a difficult burden to meet because a statement does not have to be completely accurate in every regard to be considered “true” in the eyes of the law. Under what is called the substantial truth doctrine, statements are not considered defamatory even if they are not completely accurate as long as the inaccuracies do not materially alter the substance of what was said or published.
When judges determine that an allegedly defamatory statement is substantially true, they may grant a motion for summary judgment and dismiss the case before it even goes to trial. Statements have been considered substantially true in cases where the defendant said that an athlete tested positive for one banned substance when they actually tested positive for a different banned substance, an individual was arrested in connection with a terrorist attack when they were actually detained as a material witness, and an individual was sentenced for committing six murders when they were actually sentenced for committing one murder.
The burden plaintiffs must meet in defamation law cases is even more daunting when they are public figures suing the media. In these cases, actual malice on the part of the defendant must be established. In order to establish actual malice, the public figure must prove that the defendant either knew that the statement was untrue or recklessly disregarded the truth.
Pursuing a defamation lawsuit is more difficult in the United States than it is in other parts of the world because the right to free speech is protected by the First Amendment. Public figures face even more challenges because the First Amendment also protects the freedom of the press, and the courts have ruled that this freedom allows the media to criticize public officials even if they occasionally make mistakes
A crucial part of our practice at Rose Sanders Law Firm, PLLC, is our ability to keep our clients’ personal lives private. We are here to help you create a comprehensive response when a publicity or privacy issue occurs. Our firm has worked with clients throughout Texas when they were unsure where else to turn. Let us help you when your future is at risk.
Attorneys Erica Rose and Charles Sanders use their years of experience with defamation and personal injury law to help clients protect their rights and obtain their deserved restitution. From our offices in Houston, Dallas and McAllen, we help clients across Texas get the best possible outcomes for their defamation cases. We will work closely with you to take immediate action to protect your reputation and hold the defaming party accountable. Please call us at 713-231-9288 to schedule your first meeting with one of our knowledgeable staff members