In the age of online reviews and social media, it has never been truer that “A lie will go round the world while truth is pulling its boots on.” C. H. Spurgeon, Gems from Spurgeon (1859). This is not a new problem. Jonathan Swift recognized put words to the problem long ago when he wrote, “Falsehood flies, and the truth comes limping after it.” The Examiner, Nov. 9, 1710.
In the United States, business reputation protection is in tension with the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. See also Texas Constitution art. I, § 8.
Defamation and Business Disparagement
Freedom of speech has limits. Defamation and business disparagement both concern spreading false information that causes harm. The target of the harm differs in that defamation harms the reputation of an individual while business disparagement harms the economic interests of a business.
Defamation Mitigation Act
Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code §§ 73.051 – .062 is the Defamation Mitigation Act (“DMA”) and it applies to all forms of defamation, providing statutory protections against and limitations on defamation claims. Section 73.055 of the DMA requires a “timely and sufficient request for a correction, clarification, or retraction from” the defamer (a “DMA Request”). Although there are ongoing arguments as to whether the DMA Request is necessary to maintain a lawsuit against a defamer or simply to recover exemplary (i.e., punitive) damages in a defamation lawsuit, sending the DMA Request makes sense for both practical and legal reasons.
Hiring an Attorney
Due to the nuances of defamation law, the detailed nature of the DMA, and the interplay with constitutional law (and other statutes), it is wise to consult with an experienced attorney practicing in your jurisdiction to help navigate potential defamation and business disparagement issues.
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