Defamation Per Quod, Libel Per Quod & Slander Per Quod Guide

Defamation per quod, libel per quod & slander per quod guide

When someone makes a false statement, their speech is generally protected under the First Amendment of the federal constitution. But not when that speech injures someone’s business and/or reputation. That speech is called defamation and is not protected. This is a tort including defamation per quod, libel per quod, and slander per quod.

What is defamation per quod?

There are generally two types of defamation claims. These include causes of action for defamation per quod (a Latin phrase meaning “whereby“) and defamation per se. This can be further divided into libel and slander.

Defamation per quod definition: A false statement that causes injury to someone else, such as to their business and/or reputation. The injury isn’t apparent from the statement itself, but instead requires extrinsic evidence of the statement’s defamatory nature.

While defamation laws vary based on jurisdiction, In Florida, defamation laws require proving:

  • That the defendant made a false statement about the plaintiff
  • To a third person
  • Where the falsity caused injury to the plaintiff

Therefore, bringing a per quod cause of action does require extrinsic facts affirmatively proving actual damages to the plaintiff‘s reputation or business.

Moreover, Florida law holds that to prove a defamation case, the defendant’s statement must not have been merely an opinion. This is because an opinion is not a statement of fact. In addition, the requirement that a third person heard the defamatory statement means that they must have a “reasonable degree of certainty” of to whom the defendant is referring.

Finally, to win your defamation per quod case, you must prove actual damages or general damages. This generally means that you suffered some kind of measurable harm to your reputation in your community or loss of business. This may also include mental or emotional anguish, personal humiliation, or even special damages.

What is libel per quod?

Defamation includes two subtypes: libel and slander. A statement is libelous when it is expressed in at least a semi-permanent written form. For example, a defamatory statement that is written in a newspaper is libelous. So are the following:

  • Printed in a magazine
  • Jotted down on a piece of scratch paper
  • Published in a book
  • Scrawled across a billboard

Therefore, the libel per quod meaning is that the statement is defamatory when actual damages are proven using extrinsic evidence — and the statement is published in a semi-permanent written form.

Just like with elements of defamation in general, a plaintiff can sue for Florida punitive damages if the statement or conduct is particularly egregious.

Libel per quod example

Here’s an example of libel per quod. Imagine Jack has a personal problem with Bob. They’re neighbors, and Bob keeps letting his grass clippings fly into Jack’s yard. Jack asked him to stop; Bob said no. Jack spray-paints the following phrase onto Bob’s house: “Bob abandoned his first child, Shelly.”

Jack knows the statement is false. In fact, Shelly sadly passed away from a childhood disease. For Bob to bring a successful libel per quod cause of action, he would have to show actual reputational damages caused by the statement. A third person would have also read the statement — if it washed off before anyone saw it, Bob wouldn’t have a claim. And because the statement is spray-painted onto his house, it’s certainly on a fixed medium.

What is slander per quod?

Similar to libel per quod, a statement is slanderous per quod when it is defamatory and said out loud. Again, a third person must hear this statement and be able to identify whom the statement describes. A defamatory statement can be slanderous when it is said:

  • Out loud during a conversation
  • Over the phone
  • Broadcasted over the radio
  • Broadcasted over the TV

Slander per quod example

Here’s a second defamation example, this time using slander per quod. Imagine a scenario where Tanya was driving her car toward a four-way intersection while a green car driven by a woman approached a stop sign perpendicular to Tanya. Instead of stopping, the green car plowed into Tanya, who was driving a white car.

Once at the scene, the insurance claims adjuster stated to a police officer that the white car (i.e., Tanya) missed the stop sign and crashed into the green car. If believed, this statement would cause Tanya to be at fault for the car accident.

Because said aloud and a misstatement of fact, this statement is slanderous per quod because the extrinsic facts show Tanya would suffer financial harm.

Need help with a per quod claim?

Facing or bringing a defamation per quod claim can be quite stressful. Working with a Florida defamation lawyer can bring peace of mind while also ensuring you have the best case possible. At Cueto Law Group, our legal team has the experience you’re seeking.

Contact us today for a free consultation.

FAQs

Defamation per se vs defamation per quod: what’s the difference?

Defamation per se and defamation per quod are two sides of the same coin, they are false claims that cause injury to someone else. A statement is per se defamatory when the statement on its face is so egregious that its offensiveness is clear. Defamation per quod requires extrinsic facts.

Libel per se vs libel per quod: what’s the difference?

Libel claims are false accusations expressed in at least a semi-permanent written form. A statement is libelous per se when it’s written and does not have to prove the statement’s defamatory meaning whereas a per quod libelous statement does require extrinsic proof of reputational harm.