Defendant has moved the court to dismiss plaintiff’s complaint. A motion to dismiss is granted where plaintiff fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. If the defect is curable by amendment courts will grant relief to amend. I. Is Defendant’s statement a non-actionable opinion?
A non-actionable opinion is a statement which cannot be proved false.
Here, ConsumerPro made the statement that Paul is “reputed” to be an ambulance chaser and takes only easy legal cases. First, since ConsumerPro reputes that Paul is this things it will argue that this statement was its’ opinion and not a declaration of fact. This argument will likely prevail because whether or not Paul is an ambulance chaser in either sense of the word cannot be proven false. It is merely an opinion.
Second, the term “ambulance chaser” has both a colloquial and literal definitions. However both definitions imply that Paul is a sub-par attorney which is something that cannot be proven false it is merely an opinion. Additionally the statement that Paul only takes, “the easy cases” is vague and unclear, weighing on the side of an opinion, because the determination of what an easy legal case is subjective and cannot be proven false.
Therefore, the court should grant ConsumerPro’s motion to dismiss because its statements against Paul were opinions and cannot be proven false. II. Must Paul allege malice or negligence in his defamation action against ConsumerPro?
A non-public person does not have to allege malice or negligence in defamation action, only that he suffered damages. A non-public person is a person who does not project themselves into the spotlight.
In this case, Paul is an attorney who litigates automobile accident cases. Based on these facts he does not participate in any offices or events where he thrusts himself into the spotlight. Therefore he would be considered a non-public figure and not have to allege malice or negligence only damages.
Therefore the court should deny ConsumerPro’s motion to dismiss for Paul’s failure to allege malice or negligence because he is not a public figure. III. Must Paul allege special damages in his action against ConsumerPro?
Defamation can be either libel or slander per. In a libel case the plaintiff does not have to allege special damages. In a slander case the plaintiff must prove special damages. In a slander per se case the plaintiff does not have to prove special damages where the defamatory statement is about and or affects his business reputation.
Here since ConsumerPro wrote its comments