If my town has posted minutes that have slanderous comments in them about me, what can I do about it?

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If my town has posted minutes that have slanderous comments in them about me, what can I do about it?

The township that I live in allowed a disgruntled neighbor of mine run his mouth in an open town zoning meeting and say negative things about my home, my family, and my business. I run an assisted living facility. Since then, the minutes of the meeting have been been posted on the internet and is causing me to lose business to the point where I may have to shut down completely. The worst part about this whole thing is that I am covered under state regulations to run my business and I wasn’t even required to obtain a Conditional Use Permit (which is what the zoning meeting was about). But since the township insisted that I apply for one, they allowed my neighbor to slander my name. Now when you google my name this garbage is the first thing you see. And the town refuses to take these comments off its website. What can I do?

Asked on May 18, 2011 under Personal Injury, Ohio

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You should contact a personal injury attorney. What has been done would seem to be both slander (by the speaker; spoken or oral defamation) and libel (by the town in posting the information; written defamation). Owing to some of the protections afforded  governments for the conduct of their business, it may be more difficult to take action against the town, but it's worthwhile discussing with an attorney in depth: you could potentially get an order forcing them to remove the material and also recover damages. You may also be able to recover damages from the neighbor.

Bear in mind that only factual assertions which are false are defamation; opinions--e.g. "John Doe is a sleazy businessman"--are not typically actionable. Good luck.


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