What Is Libel/Defamation, and Why Do Celebrities Sue?

If you pay attention to the news, you have probably noticed that over the years, many celebrities have filed libel and defamation lawsuits, some of which have yielded large settlements in the millions of dollars. If you have been confused by exactly what libel and defamation are, and why celebrities sue, here is a look into the very basics–

Libel and Defamation – What’s That?

Defamation is a broad term that refers to the act of damaging the good reputation of someone. Libel and slander are two types of defamatory actions. Libel refers to a defamatory statement that is written; slander is a verbal act of defamation.

In the event that some commits an act of defamation, whether libel or slander, the party who suffers damage to their reputation can bring forth a civil suit for remedies.

Why Do Celebrities File Lawsuits?

While anyone could bring forth a lawsuit for defamation when their reputation is damaged as a result of a defamatory written or verbal statement to a third party, defamation suits are most common among celebrities. For example, in 2015, actor Sean Penn filed a $10 million defamation suit against the co-creator of the series “Empire,” Lee Daniels, alleging that Daniels compared Penn to an actor who had been accused of assaulting his ex-wife. The suit is not uncharacteristic of celebrities who feel as though their reputations have been intentionally tarnished.

The reasons for filing a defamation suit are myriad, and include a) clearing someone of a wrongful accusation or rumor, b) holding a party who commits an act of defamation liable for their libelous or slanderous acts, or/and c) recovering money as a form of compensation for harm to reputation and character.

Many celebrities consider their reputation and image their ‘brand’ and therefore feel it must be protected. For example, if s/he has cultivated a wholesome image and that is attacked, whether verbally or in writing, this could harm their (future) income if the statements turn away fans. Of course a celebrity’s life can be highly public and the most minor details are scrutinized and critiqued in magazines, newspapers and on television. That does not mean that every article or segment will result in a defamation lawsuit.

Do You Have a Defamation Suit?

If you think that another person has committed an act of defamation that has resulted in harm to your character, you may have a case. Successful defamation suits are characterized by proving that another party presented a false statement as a fact, published that statement or communicated it to a third party, and that the plaintiff incurred damages. To learn more about defamation suits and how our law offices can help you, call us today for a free consultation. We have offices nationwide and there is no obligation to move forward with a case. If one of our attorneys determines there is a case and you decide to explore your legal options, there are no upfront fees. In fact, we only recover a fee if we win your case.