Litigation Over Yogurt Defamation Resolved
Alex Jones, the far right talk show host has resolved the defamation lawsuit filed against him. According to NBCnews.com:
“Far-right radio host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones ‘resolved’ his lawsuit with Greek yogurt giant Chobani and retracted his comments about the company on Wednesday — just a few weeks after the foodmaker sued him over what it said were false and defamatory comments. ‘During the week of April 10, 2017, certain statements were made on the Infowars Twitter feed and YouTube channel regarding Chobani, LLC that I now understand to be wrong,’ Jones, who runs the website Infowars.com, announced in a video on his YouTube Channel. ‘The tweets and video have now been retracted, and will not be re-posted.’ On behalf of Infowars, I regret that we mischaracterized Chobani, its employees and the people of Twin Falls, Idaho, the way we did,” he continued. Jones’ channel has more than 2 million followers.”
The lawsuit stemmed from allegations made by Jones involving refugees in Idaho:
“Chobani sued Jones on April 24, accusing him of posting false and defamatory information alleging that the company was linked to an assault case involving refugee children that had nothing to do with the company and that Chobani was linked to an increase in tuberculosis in the area.”
Chobani sued Jones and Infowars for defamation, specifically for slander (libel is written defamation, slander is when the alleged defamatory conduct is spoken, which Chobani alleges here. A plaintiff who alleges common law slander, for a defendant to be held liable, must prove that:
- The defendant made a false and defamatory statement that concerned the plaintiff; and
- The plaintiff must establish that the defendant made an unprivileged publication to a third party.
Further, in many instances when a public figure or entity is involved (as it is here, with Chobani) the requirement that the defendant have acted with actual malice can be present.
In addition to the requirement that the statement be untrue, for it to be defamatory, it must also harm the reputation of the subject so as to lower him or her in the estimation of his or her community and / or prevent or deter other people from associating with the subject. Basically, the defamatory comments must indicate something that a reasonable person would consider unsavory or negative in a legitimate way.
Exposing a defamed individual to ridicule, harming his or her character, questioning his or her morality or honesty, statements that impact the financial health of the defamed party, and allegations of criminal conduct are all types of libel and slander that can be sued upon. However, real and actual damages must be present for a plaintiff to recover any funds. An innocent negative comment in a social setting is rarely sufficiently severe, and money damages in that situation would be unlikely.
If you have been sued for defamation or are considering filing a defamation lawsuit where real damages arose, whether libel or slander, the best course of action is to always seek the advice of a qualified civil litigation attorney.
*image from Chobani