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OneTeam OneDream
08-08-2005, 01:54 AM
In my book, there are a few individuals, but one in particular, that are looked at in a "not so nice" light. There are described instances where this person does specific things that make him look foolish. These instances are all fact. This person knows this, and has said that if his name is mentioned in the book, he will sue. Would he have any case, whatsoever?

Richard
08-08-2005, 02:19 AM
[WARNING: NOT A LAWYER, DOESN'T PLAY ONE ON TV]

It depends what it is, whether he can prove it, how it's done... The main one I'd imagine you'd have trouble with, even assuming you can prove what you say, is if he could mount a case that you'd damaged his character/standing. Either way, it's one to hit with a lawyer. Truth is generally a winning defense, but don't forget, you have to prove it to be true beyond the shadow of a doubt - he wouldn't have to prove it false.

(And be glad you don't live in England, where anyone you libel doesn't even have to swear under oath that what you said isn't true. Our libel laws are horrific...)

OneTeam OneDream
08-08-2005, 02:23 AM
[WARNING: NOT A LAWYER, DOESN'T PLAY ONE ON TV]

It depends what it is, whether he can prove it, how it's done... The main one I'd imagine you'd have trouble with, even assuming you can prove what you say, is if he could mount a case that you'd damaged his character/standing. Either way, it's one to hit with a lawyer. Truth is generally a winning defense, but don't forget, you have to prove it to be true beyond the shadow of a doubt - he wouldn't have to prove it false.

(And be glad you don't live in England, where anyone you libel doesn't even have to swear under oath that what you said isn't true. Our libel laws are horrific...)



There would be, bare minimum, 50 people that would back up my account.

Mac H.
08-08-2005, 03:08 AM
In some jurisdictions, simply being right isn't enough.

In some states of Australia, you also have to demonstrate that it was in the 'public interest' for you to expose them.

For example, you couldn't run public ads in the newspapers pointing out that your ex-girlfriend cheated on you. Discussing it with friends is allowed, because in a smaller social group it is more relevant to the small sector of the public. But publically humiliating someone for profit or spite, without being able to claim that it is in the public's interest to know - that can be illegal.

Mac
(Also not a lawyer ...)

icerose
08-09-2005, 12:19 AM
Just make your life simple and change the names and indicate that the names have been changed for their protection in a disclaimer. Problem solved.

MOON GODDESS
08-09-2005, 12:34 AM
I'm not a lawyer, either, but I would be careful.
The party in question has already indicated he would sue if he turned up in your book, and you don't know that he can't prove anything.
I would think that anything that possibly holds one up for ridicule or scandal, could always be made into a case, even if the party in question lost.
If you''re going to go ahead with this, change everything enough so that no one can say for sure who it is.

OneTeam OneDream
08-09-2005, 02:40 AM
If you''re going to go ahead with this, change everything enough so that no one can say for sure who it is.



Thanks to everyone that responded, however, if this is what I have to do, then I guess its time to stop shopping this around.

Jamesaritchie
08-09-2005, 02:59 AM
The thing about being sued is that it can cost you 100K, even if you win. Make sure the publisher's lawyers vet the book, and even then, you can almost bet there will be a clause in your contract that says you're on your own.

Truth is enough to let you win, but opinon and truth get mixed up often.

And legally speaking, fifty opinions carry no more weight than one opinion. You can probably get away with writing the bare bone facts of what this person actually did, but if you let opinion of what these things made him look like slip into the writing, you could be in hot water.

It's a fine line, but if this person is simply an individual, not a celebrity or a crminal, procede with caution. He can certainly sue, and can certainly cost you a LOT of money, even if he loses. And if he isn't a celebrity or a criminal, he just might win.

OneTeam OneDream
08-09-2005, 04:11 AM
The thing about being sued is that it can cost you 100K, even if you win. Make sure the publisher's lawyers vet the book, and even then, you can almost bet there will be a clause in your contract that says you're on your own.

Truth is enough to let you win, but opinon and truth get mixed up often.

And legally speaking, fifty opinions carry no more weight than one opinion. You can probably get away with writing the bare bone facts of what this person actually did, but if you let opinion of what these things made him look like slip into the writing, you could be in hot water.

It's a fine line, but if this person is simply an individual, not a celebrity or a crminal, procede with caution. He can certainly sue, and can certainly cost you a LOT of money, even if he loses. And if he isn't a celebrity or a criminal, he just might win.


luckily for me, there is no opinion, just documented facts.

Jamesaritchie
08-09-2005, 06:21 AM
luckily for me, there is no opinion, just documented facts.

Fact doesn't mean there is no opinion. Let's say a person gets drunk at a Christmas party, puts a lampshade on his head, and then makes a pass at the boss's wife. These are documented facts. But how this makes the person look is still going to be opinion.

Some there may think these actions make the person look like a fool. Others there may think the person looked cute. Still others may think he was simply the life of the party. The facts are what they are, but the moment you say someone is a fool, you're largely into opinion.

But the thing to remember is this. Even if you only present duocumented facts, no opinion anywhere, the person can still file a lawsuit against you. And even if you win the lawsuit hands down, your lawyer fees can still be 100K or more.

Being right may, or may not mean you will win the lawsuit, no one can predict how a jury will vote, but wnning can cost almost as much as losing.

If someone threatens to sue, take it seriously. Being right does not stop you from being sued, and your lawyer(s) will charge you just as much for winning as for losing.

Tish Davidson
08-10-2005, 01:55 AM
Lawsuits can cost you a lot of money, but the threat to sue is cheap. You should also weigh whether this person will actually follow through or is just posturing and if he has the $$ to follow through or a strong enough case to get a lawyer to take the suit on for a percentage of the judgment. I'd say you should try to find a publisher, then discuss with the publisher's attorneys whether you should 1) omit the person 2) change the name 3) change the writing to eliminate "opinion" 4) go ahead as planned or 5) some combination of the above. This is an issue whenre you need professional advice from an attorney who deals with publishing libel.

Jamesaritchie
08-10-2005, 06:33 AM
Lawsuits can cost you a lot of money, but the threat to sue is cheap. You should also weigh whether this person will actually follow through or is just posturing and if he has the $$ to follow through or a strong enough case to get a lawyer to take the suit on for a percentage of the judgment. I'd say you should try to find a publisher, then discuss with the publisher's attorneys whether you should 1) omit the person 2) change the name 3) change the writing to eliminate "opinion" 4) go ahead as planned or 5) some combination of the above. This is an issue whenre you need professional advice from an attorney who deals with publishing libel.

Checking with the publisher's lawyer is a good idea, but remember that attorneys make money, even when a lawsuit is extremely weak. Unfortunately, you don't need a storng case to get an attorney to take it, you just need the money to pay an attorney, whether he wins or loses. Frivolous lawsuits make it to court every day, and still cost the defendent a ton of money.