This arose from my posting the following on my Twitter (MaxLaw843) account: “Whether Facebook posts were poor attempts at humor or something else, it was NOT a $6M defamation: http://bit.ly/d17Ix6.” An old high school friend posted back: Well, what is it, if it is not defamation. Abandon for a moment that I am not licensed in NY and know virtually nothing about that state’s law. With that kind of appropriate legal disclaimer….let’s chat about it, rather than my walking down the hallway at my law firm (Grimball & Cabaniss, LLC) and asking our associate who has handled quite a few defamation cases.
What cause of action would it be in South Carolina, assuming our courts would take the same action of dismissing the action if it were to be filed here? A cause of action for nuisance? Nah. And it certainly would not be cyberbullying as it is not really a civil cause of action but instead is a criminal charge.
What the NY court seemed to be saying, in between the lines, is that sometimes people can not be too nice, catty and the whole nine yards….and sometimes we just have to “suck it up” when people make fun of you….or you can fight words with words. (I agree with my friend: It’s a sad thing when people look for such to do that causes embarrassment to someone else.) Defamation has to be a harming of your image, or relationships, etc. so maybe New York did not think that it went that far, at least under NY law. If you have no damages, you have no lawsuit….
Maybe someone else out there has an idea…or has succeeded on a civil cause of action and will come forward and comment on my blog here.