Massachusetts Defamation Law

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According to both state and federal courts in Massachusetts,

Defamation is the publication, either orally or in writing, of a statement concerning the plaintiff which is false and causes damage to the plaintiff…A defamatory statement is one that hold[s] the plaintiff up to contempt, hatred, scorn, or ridicule or tend[s] to impair his standing in the community, at least to his discredit in the minds of a considerable and respectable class in the community.

See Yohe v. Nugent, 321 F.3d 35, 39-40 (1s Cir. 2003) as well as McAvoy v. Shufrin, 401 Mass. 593, 597 (1988).

To succeed on a defamation claim, a plaintiff must prove the following:

(1) the defendant made a false and defamatory communication

(2) the communication concerned the plaintiff

(3) the communication was published or shown to a third party.

(4) the plaintiff suffered damages as a result of the communication.

See Langadinos v. Bd. Of Trustees of Univ. of Massachusetts, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 141341, 2013 WL 5507042 (D. Mass. Sept. 30, 2013).

The statute of limitations for such a claim is typically three years.

According to MGL c.260, § 4 , actions for slander or libel “shall be commenced only within three years next after the cause of action accrues.”

If you have questions about defamation law or civil litigation in Massachusetts please contact me at justin@jrmccarthy.com.

 

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