Defamation: Slander; Injurious Falsehood

Slander is spoken defamation. Slander occurs when one’s spoken word reflect adversely upon another person’s integrity, character, good name or standing in the community. With slander cases, the plaintiff/claimant has to, more than anything, prove that the slanderous statements damaged his/her reputation.
There are four (4) core requirements to slander: the (a) statement identifies the plaintiff/claimant, (b) there was a publication — that is, third-parties heard and understood the statements, (c) the statement was a false statement of fact, and (d) ascertainable damages to reputation.
Additionally, if the plaintiff/claimant is a “public figure,” it will have to be proven that the statements were made with actual malice. A statement is made with actual malice if the declarant made the statement knowing it was false, or with reckless disregard of whether it was false.
Injurious falsehood is another tort — distinct from defamation — which is recognized in Missouri. Injurious falsehood requires that the declarant (a) intentionally published false statements knowingly or recklessly, (b) to harm the plaintiff’s financial interests, and the (c) Plaintiff did in fact thereby suffer financial losses. Unlike defamation, then, injurious falsehood addresses pecuniary harm, not necessarily harm to one’s reputation.

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