“Only verifiable statements of fact can be libelous.”

“Only verifiable statements of fact can be libelous.” So sayeth New York Supreme Court Justice Alice Schlesinger in rejecting a defamation claim brought by Sandals resort against an anonymous critic. (source)

Too bad that so many other judges are too stupid to understand this basic legal principle.

3 Responses to “Only verifiable statements of fact can be libelous.”

  1. arizonaplatt says:

    Interesting. But as I understand it, a judge in your (and my) favorite southern state ruled that a series of statements prefaced with “In my opinion…” may still be libelous if the person making the statements is merely using the preamble as a ploy. The issue of whether an opinion really is intended as an opinion, or is intended to create a factual impression in the mind of the reader, seems open to interpretation where the fact is not easily verified.

  2. Harry Mauron says:

    Based on the 4th Cir case Snyder v. Phelps, even verifiable (false) facts aren’t libelous, as long as you hold up hyperbolic signs and use frothy-mouth rhetoric all around it. Exclamation points seem to help too. (e.g., God hates lawyers! All lawyers to hell! Phelps is pedophile! Preachers are evil!)

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