What can I do about defamation and assault regarding the repossession of my car?

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What can I do about defamation and assault regarding the repossession of my car?

I fell behind on my bills the past few months and had my car was repossessed. The lady was rude the first time (I later obtained the car back). Unfortunately as luck would play out it happened again – this time they came to my work (which I can understand), but this time the repo people (husband and wife, same people from last time). The husband talked to a fellow employee about my repossession, stating “This is the second time he’s had it repo’d,” and “He’s a dumbass for not getting his things out now, because I will charge him $50-$75 to get them from my storage facility”. Also he stated that the bank won’t talk to me unless they have the car. All of this to my co-worker. So I looked through the windows to see if I have anything important I need out of it. As I’m unlocking the door to get out my paycheck, the wife demands the keys from me and grabs my hands and twists them to get the key. She was never nice about the situation as I was basically calm and somewhat scared (losing my car), throughout the whole ordeal. I have a witness stating this. Please tell me what you think about this because I do believe I was treated unfairly and that it was wrong to be treated this way on my work premises.

Asked on April 11, 2011 under Personal Injury, North Carolina

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

1) Defamation--defamation is the public making of *false factual* assertions; that means that if the assertions were true (e.g. it's the second time there was a repossession) or were opinions (e.g. "he's a dumbass"), there is no actionable defamation. Only if a false statement of fact was made, would there possibly be defamation.

2) Assault--any unauthorized contact or touching may be assault. However, in terms of suing about it, only if you suffered some injury (other than to pride) or damage would it be worthwhile bringing a lawsuit. You could try to report this to the police, but there is a good chance they will not take action on something this minor.

In short--you were treated badly, according to what you wrote, and it sounds like you deserve sympathy. Unfortunately, the law might not provide any legal claim you could meaningfully bring.


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