Can I sue for defamation of character if someone falsely claims I forged their signature on a legal document?

My roommate agreed to move out after failing to pay rent and bills. She signed a 30 day notice and we gave it to our landlord. Long story short, she never intended to move out and in order to prevent our landlord from taking her off the lease she emailed them that we had forged her signature and are forcefully removing her things off the property (both not true). Can we sue her for defamation of character?

Asked on June 28, 2012 under Personal Injury, California

Answers:

Cameron Norris, Esq. / Law Office of Gary W. Norris

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Nice roommate.  The short answer is yes.  Defamation branches out into two categories: slander and libel.  Slander is verbal defamation, while libel is usually written and published.  Some narrow categories of slander are considered "libel per se" because they are so damaging to one's reputation.  However, this situation is not included in those categories. 

So, you could sue for any damages that have arisen from her slanderous statement, including any lease costs that flow from her false statement.  However, it is a long arduous legal process and even the fees are expensive.  I would suggest trying to work it out with the landlord or finding someone to sublease your spot in the apartment/house, then walk away.


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