Portland, OR asked in Family Law, Civil Rights and Libel & Slander for Oregon

Q: My brother wrote lies about me some place online. I can't fight what I don't know

Who can help me find out what he wrote?

1 Lawyer Answer
Joanne Reisman
Joanne Reisman
  • Portland, OR
  • Licensed in Oregon

A: This isn't a legal question and we don't have a way to search for anyone on Justia much less someone without a name. But I am going to suggest that you read up on what libel and slander is and ISN'T. Just because someone says something about you that you don't like doesn't mean that it is actionable as libel or slander. Here is an article that explains to law as applied in Oregon cases: http://www.osbar.org/public/legalinfo/1186_LibelSlander.htm Note that statements that are true or just opinion are not slander. Also as a practical matter you have to show economic damages in most cases to be able to bring the case. So in the majority of cases if you can't show how you lost money due to the slanderous statement, you don't have a case that will go forward in court. There are exceptions to the required economic damages rule, situations were if you show the slander the damages are presumed and you can still bring a case of slander without a specific showing of money loss. Some of the exceptions are:

1. A statement that you have a contagious or loathsome disease

2. Stating that you were involved in a crime involving moral turpitude.

3. When the slander imputes unfitness to perform the duties of office or ascribes conduct that would adversely affect fitness for an occupation or profession.

4. When the slander prejudices the plaintiff in his or her business, trade, or profession.

Despite the fact that the above exceptions don't require a showing of economic damages you just can't ask for a lot of money by showing that these circumstances occurred. You or your attorney will still need to find a way to put a value on the damages so that a jury can give you and award although you could just ask for injunctive relief.

Probably the biggest obstacle to bringing any slander case is to have a situation where the payoff for bringing and expensive lawsuit will be enough to cover the cost of your attorney's fees. So unless you can show some high degree of economic damages and your brother has money that would pay the damages if you win, it probably isn't economical to bring a slander suit against your brother.

Honestly the best way to fight slander is to not feed it. Remember that slander isn't something between two people, it is what one person says about another person and how it is perceived or used by the rest of the world, third parties. If no one else besides you and your brother, is paying attention to what your brother is saying, it probably isn't slander because is isn't damaging your reputation in the eyes of third parties. If other people are paying attention then maybe you can convince them that what is being said isn't true by being sure that your future actions and deeds don't support your brother's statements. Actions DO speak louder than words. Just ignore what your brother has said about you and show everyone else involved in your life by your actions that what he said can't be true. People will figure things out for themselves eventually.

Of course if you do feel you are being damaged by your brother's words published in any media, then by all means consult with an Attorney. Just be prepared to pay for the Attorney's time.

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