Defamation in the News: Planned Parenthood
CNN recently reported that the healthcare group Planned Parenthood has filed a lawsuit against the curiously named Center for Medical Progress. The group, who’s main focus has been an alleged “investigation” into the practices of the large women’s medical provider, released doctored videos that attempted to claim that Planned Parenthood made a profit selling human tissue. While it is clear that the CMP is working to discredit and defund Planned Parenthood—which it can legally do—how do their videos fall under personal injury law?
This is where defamation law comes in. There are two basic types of defamation, slander and libel. Slander is generally thought of as malicious gossip—it’s spread verbally. The latter type, libel, deals with publication of false facts in an attempt to cause malice. Publication can include written documentation like newspaper ads and tracts, as well as videos, photographs, and comics. Because libel is published in this manner, a plaintiff is not required to show that it occurred—the libel is publicly available and has clearly occurred.
To show malice, Planned Parenthood’s personal injury attorneys would need to prove to a judge or jury that the defendant, the Center for Medical Progress, knowingly created videos with false information meant to harm Planned Parenthood or that they created videos with false information that would have been proven false had they bothered to check. CNN and other news outlets have debunked the findings from the videos, however it appears negative press from the videos may have harmed Planned Parenthood’s reputation. If a judge or jury finds this is the case, perhaps by considering public opinion polls for or against Planned Parenthood’s funding or congressional actions to defund the medical provider based on the faulty information provided in the videos, they will then need to decide what injury or damages Planned Parenthood suffered.
Planned Parenthood’s case isn’t just about defamation, but for purposes of personal injury law, it is an interesting case to follow. Many New York personal injury attorneys will be following the case closely to see how a judge or jury determines actual malice and whether Planned Parenthood is seen as an organization or “public figure”, holding it to a higher burden of proof. Add to that the political implications and the shock value of the case rises.
Thankfully, many of us will never have to deal with such large-scale defamation, but that doesn’t mean we’re immune from local defamation. Libel and slander can damage an entrepreneur’s reputation, making it harder to earn a living. If you’ve been affected by defamation from a competitor or a vengeful former client, it’s important to seek restitution to restore your reputation. A consultation with a New York personal injury attorney can shed more light on your case and help you decide whether to move forward. It’s important to see an attorney as soon as possible after the defamation occurs to make sure you’re eligible to file a lawsuit, so call a New York personal injury lawyer today.