The Truth About Untrue Statements
Defamation is a legal concept that most people are at least somewhat familiar with these days. In the current digital age defamation (or at least perceived defamation) has become more prevalent as an issue in the public view. Most people have the opportunity to voice an opinion to the public at large via their own Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, Snapchats, or blogs that can be amplified and shared around the world in a matter of minutes or hours.
‘The internet is forever’ is a maxim that is all too often forgotten (or ignored). The permanence of internet content, combined with the ease with which a person can be searched on the internet, means that a negative statement about a person can have lasting effects on professional and/or social opportunities and bring widespread public shame or ridicule. This in turn often leads people to seek legal recourse against the publisher of the content.
Our office receives many calls from people looking to pursue legal action against others for defaming them. Frequently, there is a misunderstanding as to what is legally actionable. Simply put, many times someone has written something about the caller that the caller just doesn’t like or is hurt or embarrassed by. In and of itself, such statement is not defamatory based solely on the person’s dislike of what was published, especially if the statement is true. So, what makes a statement defamatory?
- A statement must be made about a person, either in writing (libel) or spoken (slander);
- The statement must be false – too often people seek to pursue a defamation action based on the publishing of a statement that is, although negative or harmful to the person’s reputation, entirely true and truth is the ultimate defense to defamation claims;
- The false statement must be published or communicated to others;
- The false statement must have been made with knowledge the statement is false or with either negligence as to its truth if the allegedly defamed person is a private citizen, or with reckless disregard for the truth if the statement is about a public figure, on the part of the statement maker. In either case, the intent of the statement maker regarding the truth of the statement matters; and
- The potentially defamed person, in most cases, must be be able to show damages resulting from the false statement and its publication, such as lost wages if fired over the statements made about him or her, damage to that person’s reputation, etc. Sometimes defamation can be ‘defamation per se’ which makes certain statements defamatory regardless whether or not the potentially defamed person is able to show he or she was harmed or suffered damages. Examples of defamation per se are a false statement to the effect that a person has committed a serious crime, is unfit or incompetent at his or her job, or that a person has some attribute repugnant to society (i.e. an infectious disease or some objectively highly offensive predilection).
Ultimately, defamation is an ever-present concern in this day and age where unfounded accusations can spread far and wide quickly, and then linger on the internet for years to come attached to a person’s name. As such, people must be vigilant in guarding their reputations as much as possible. As evidenced above, defamation is not a simple concept that requires only showing up for a court hearing to prove and get damages. Similarly, each case is heavily fact specific with regard to the above elements of defamation.
If you or someone you know may have been defamed, you should consult with one of our attorneys who can review the facts of what happened and help you navigate what can be a complicated legal issue. Likewise, if you or someone you know has been accused of defaming another person, an appointment should be made with a professional to discuss defending such a claim, as ignoring or not properly addressing the issue could leave you potentially liable for damages for which you may not be legally responsible. Our attorneys are standing by to assist and we look forward to your call.
By a vote of 6,375 to 5,378 South Portland will regulate short-term rentals. Since the emergence of companies like Airbnb and HomeAway, cities have struggled to find a balance between maintaining the integrity of residential neighborhoods and satisfying a new industry.
South Portland has been at the forefront of this debate in Maine as it continues to grow in popularity due to its many attractions and proximity to downtown Portland. The Press Herald reported that there were 282 short-term rentals in South Portland as of November 2017.
Now that the dust has settled, what will be the law after January 1, 2019?
- “Unhosted Short-Term Rentals of 30 Days or less in residential zones” are banned.
- “Unhosted”= Owner Not on Premises During Stay
- All short-term rental units must be inspected, licensed and insured by South Portland.
- City officials with use new technology to monitor for illegal short-term rentals.
What will not be impacted?
- Unhosted Short-Term Rentals in Commercial or Mixed-Use Zones.
Details still need to be worked out. For instance, “Hosted” short-term rentals will be allowed in residential zoning areas under certain conditions. The City Clerk’s office will release information about registration as it becomes available and recommends checking their website for new updates.
The attorneys at Ainsworth, Thelin and Raftice handle all types of real estate matters. Every case is fact dependent and even the smallest detail can impact how the law will apply to you or your building.
The information in this blog is not designed to be specific legal advice. If you have a question or wish to set up a consultation, please click below or call us today.
I am sure that line got your attention! Good! At ATR, we have been advising clients for years that what you communicate can have consequences. To get that point across succinctly, I tell clients not to text, e mail, or post anything they would not be comfortable reading out loud in open court, to a judge. I have heard other attorneys tell their clients that they should be comfortable reading any of their communications to their children. The point is, our private thoughts and opinions can and often do have negative consequences. We all have strong emotions about our personal lives and those we have relationships with and that is natural. A recent Maine Law Court opinion (State v. Heffron) however made it clear that some communication, even a post on your own Facebook page, can be legally interpreted as “contact” and in the context of a Protection From Abuse Order, “contact” can result in arrest, detention, and perhaps conviction.
Social media is as much a part of our everyday lives as our emotions are but mixing the two without being aware of the consequences can literally land you in jail. There are appropriate outlets for the natural, strong emotions that arise out of the relationship dynamics we all face. Now more than ever, people need to think before they “speak” or their freedom may be in jeopardy. Our criminal team can help you navigate the social media landscape after the Heffron decision, and by all means, edit what you post, e mail, or text in the midst of difficult times.
One of the very first concerns parents have when facing a divorce is “When will I see my children?”. This is one of the most frightening aspects of Maine Family Law and especially so for many fathers. There is a long standing “expectation” that children will spend more time with their mother. There actually used to be a legal presumption that children under a certain age would reside primarily with their mother. It was known as the “Tender Years” doctrine and it reflected common thinking at the time. Maine’s newest family laws actually mandate the “equal consideration of parents”. Despite that language being the law, some are still convinced that fathers get pushed aside.
What Maine’s laws say is that contact schedules need to serve the “best interest of the child (ren)” 19-A MRS 1653(3). Maine law has a set framework for the best interest analysis and it contains 19 factors a Judge must consider. In general, Judges do not want to decide your schedule for you. Judges much prefer situations where the parents have decided how best to divide up the time and make sure the children are well cared for. The schedules that work the best are the ones that all of the parties help to create. The schedule is about the children after all, and they did not choose for their parents to get divorced.
A certain level of inconvenience is expected for the parents and all efforts should be made to create a schedule that preserves the importance of all parental relationships. The studies are very clear that outcomes for children are best when both parents remain connected to the children and maintain positive influences. Each family will be different of course, but the key is focusing on positive outcomes rather than trying to win a particular battle within the litigation. Call John Turcotte or Chris Leddy and discuss your case today.
Jerome continues to impress clients with his vast knowledge and expertise in a very nuanced area of the law. Commercial Bed & Breakfast and Inn transactions involve many moving parts. While every deal has individual aspects, there are really two transactions going on, the business and the building.
Attorney Gamache always helps his clients understand all aspects of the sale. James Smith, the new owner of The Inn on Carleton, had this to say, “Being represented by Jerome Gamache of ATR law helped to make the transaction smooth and made me confident that I was well-informed throughout.”