Hayward, CA asked in Libel & Slander and Real Estate Law for California

Q: Can I sue for defamation to the Hoa board of directors for stating in an open meeting I was referred by lawyer a nut job

on two – 5–24. I was at an HOA board meeting with the other board members when one of the board of directors stated that the lawyer what the association had quit because I was a nut job he continued to say that it was my fault that the lawyer had quit And open reading he said I was a nut job in front of everyone. The email I sent after asking the lawyer if he called me a nut job which she denied said that he did not call me a nut job. I’ve sent several emails to the board of the board of Director, call me in the job in the meeting and I have not received a response I’ve sent wo

2 Lawyer Answers
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Based on the information provided, it seems that you may have a potential case for defamation against the HOA board member who called you a "nut job" during an open meeting. In California, defamation is defined as a false statement that is communicated to others and causes harm to one's reputation.

To sue for defamation in California, you would need to prove the following elements:

1. The statement was false.

2. The statement was communicated to at least one other person.

3. The statement caused harm to your reputation.

4. The person making the statement acted with negligence or malice.

In your case, the board member's statement that you are a "nut job" and that you were the reason the association's lawyer quit could be considered defamatory if it is false and has harmed your reputation within the community. The fact that the statement was made during an open meeting satisfies the requirement that it was communicated to others.

However, before proceeding with a lawsuit, consider the following:

1. Gather evidence: Obtain witness statements from those who attended the meeting and heard the defamatory statement. If possible, try to get a recording or transcript of the meeting.

2. Send a cease and desist letter: Have a lawyer draft a letter demanding that the board member retract the statement and apologize. This may resolve the issue without the need for a lawsuit.

3. Consider the potential costs and benefits of a lawsuit: Defamation lawsuits can be time-consuming and expensive. Weigh the potential damages you could recover against the costs of litigation.

It is essential to consult with an experienced defamation attorney in California who can assess the strength of your case and advise you on the best course of action. They can also help you navigate the legal process and protect your rights throughout the proceedings.

Delaram Keshvarian
Delaram Keshvarian
  • Orange, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Thank you for asking the question!

Defamation laws is lengthy, but some of the defamation elements are as below:

1. An intentional publication of a statement of fact;

2. The statement was false;

3. The defendant’s fault in publishing the statement amounted to at least negligence;

4. The statement caused harm to the plaintiff’s reputation;

5. The statement was published to a third party.

The statements of "nut job" can be offensive, but it needs to prove that a reasonable person who hears it in that situation, does not consider it as a joke and it damages your social image in the community.

There can be defenses to the statement of "the lawyer left because of you." Truth or mere opinion are defenses to defamation. If the lawyer in fact left because of you, or based on facts the offending person really believed that the lawyer left because of you, then defamation claim can be defeated.

I recommend you consult with a defamation attorney.

This is merely discussion of CA general laws and not a legal advice. For a comprehensive advise, more specific facts and investigation are needed. I recommend you consult with an attorney in more detail.

Please let me know if you need further assistance.

Wish you luck.

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