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Teenage Bullying Hits Cyberspace and Lawyer Dad Fights Back

Add one more weapon to the arsenal of teenage bullying. Pranks in the bathroom or notes passed in the classroom, these childhood tactics to harass and annoy are passé in 2011. Kids now are resorting to “cyber bullying” using technological innovations such as Twitter and Facebook.

According to The Houston Chronicle, one Texas dad is fighting back by filing a defamation lawsuit against students who have posted derogatory remarks and a video on Facebook about his daughter.

Jason Medley, a Texas lawyer, first attempted to resolve the issue with school officials and the girl’s parents by issuing a cease-and-desist letter. When the families failed to meet the demands of the letter, which included stopping all communication with his daughter and donating $5,000 each to the non-profit Centre for Safe and Responsible Internet Use by early June, he filed a defamation suit against the girls.

The issue of this case, as reported by The Houston Chronicle, is defamation, and the accusation is that these girls used false statements that "impute sexual impropriety and misconduct" to Medley’s daughter. Medley also contends that the video provides evidence that the girls intended to physically harm his daughter.

Parents everywhere will be watching this case. Some would argue that this case should never have been filed in court and it should be discussed between parents and school administrators. Others contend that if defamatory statements are made and an amicable resolution cannot be found, taking it to the courts may have been Medley’s only remedy.

What is Defamation?

Defamation can take many forms. Defamation is false or negative information about a product, group or person. It can include any statements which are false but are made as if they were true. The defamatory statements must be made or communicated to other people other than the victim.

Defamation can include slander which is spoken words, sign language or gestures. If the defamation is pictures or printed words it is called libel.

Winning a Defamation Lawsuit

Defamation lawsuits are like other personal injury claims, and there are specific legal aspects which must be proven to win damages. To win a defamation suit the plaintiff must prove:

  • The statement or written words were false.

  • The statements were published or shared with a third-party.

  • The statement caused injury or loss. This could be to the reputation of the plaintiff or in some jurisdictions, mental anguish.

  • Under some conditions, it may be possible to prove defamation without proving loss or damage. There are four types of defamation called "defamation per se," which are considered defamatory if they are made and they are false. These include claiming that a person has STD or highly contagious disease, they are guilty of sexual misconduct, they have committed a crime or they are inept at business.

    Defamation laws for public figures are a bit more complicated and allow some statements to be made which might be considered defamatory if they were made against a common person. Government officials, officers of large corporations, and movie stars must prove not only that the defamatory statement was false but that the statement to defraud was made with “malice” and with “disregard for the truth”.

    Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyers

    Defamation can cause severe personal loss, emotional suffering and loss of profits for a business. Filing a defamation suit generally should not be your first action to resolve minor disputes, but if you have attempted reconciliation and your actions have not stopped the defamatory actions, a personal injury lawyer can help.

    Personal injury lawyers understand the law and can review your defamation claim and determine if you have a personal injury case.

    Some claim that parents and administrators have over reacted to bullying; others claim that not enough has been done to stop bullying. With the tools that students have today, parents and administrators will have to be more vigilant to stop adolescent pranks and harmful actions. This time, one Houston dad said enough is enough.

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