Can I sue for defamation if a newspaper printed an article about my business based on a meeting that was held without me?

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Can I sue for defamation if a newspaper printed an article about my business based on a meeting that was held without me?

I was unaware of the meeting. The village where my company is located decided to terminate my lease without cause back 4 months ago and gave me until this month to move out. In their meeting they claimed I didn’t pay rent for 2 months and more than likely won’t pay for this month. However, the mayor of the village gave me permission to skip those payments to help cover the cost at the new location I was moving too. The newspaper failed to mention that and now it looks like (due to the newspaper) that I purposely do not and choose not to pay rent. My clientele is questioning where their money goes if I don’t pay bills.

Asked on August 10, 2014 under Personal Injury, Ohio

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

You *may* have a claim: defamation is a negative and untrue factual statement--like that you did not pay rent when you did--that damages your repuation. However, for newspapers and media, there is also an issue of intent: if it was reasonable for the paper to rely on the information they received, the newspaper probably is not liable--the media is generally only liable if it was reckless (or intentional) on their part to print false information, and not if they reasonably relied on information they were given. However, if the village lied to the newspaper, it is possible that the village could be liable for defamation; you may wish to consult with a personal injury attorney (they also generally handle defamation cases) to explore potential liabiltiy against the village in more detail.


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