Online Defamation Damages Calculations

Defamation can be devastating and oftentimes spreads quicker than fake news on social media.  Under federal and most state laws, courts have routinely held that a plaintiff is entitled to recover costs incurred in performing various forms of reputation repair damage control in response to a defendant’s false statements. A plaintiff can also argue for consequential damages when the defendants’ actions result in more costs. In past defamation cases, judges have awarded plaintiffs money to “clean up” online reputation messes left in the defendants’ wake.

The internet and social media have changed the way that reputations are made and destroyed and as a result the number of cases of defamation cases is growing.  When someone is defamed, the defamatory information is only a few clicks away, forever.   The difference of defaming a person in prior years versus today, via television, newspapers, radio, blogs or social media is immense.  The internet is a vast repository of defamatory information and content is easily found in seconds via search engines and the most salacious content is often permanent. The internet has become the platform for eternal defamation unless a concerted effort is made to direct people to factual information.

Court Qualified Reputation Damage Expert

Our court qualified expert can help establish cleanup expenses by looking at the damage and estimating the costs to repair the reputation of the person defamed. Specifically, our expert examine:

  • How far the damaging material has spread across the internet and social media;
  • The required steps to clean up the damage and repair a person’s reputation;
  • Calculations regarding the costs to repair someone’s reputation as a result of defamation, including what type of digital repair, paid advertising and media outreach may be necessary; and
  • What ongoing monitoring and corrective actions may be needed going forward.

Case Study

Dr. Jose Lopez sued two insurance companies after his patients began informing him that their pharmacists would no longer fill their prescriptions. Over six months, the patients were falsely informed by the defendants that Dr. Lopez was a sanctioned provider by the federal government and unable to write prescriptions.

Our expert Eric Rose was retained to address the effects of the dissemination of false information to the doctor’s professional reputation to determine the appropriate standard of care/crisis response that should have taken place while provided an overview of the action necessary to recover the doctor’s good professional reputation. In a landmark case, a three-judge binding arbitration panel heard the case and awarded Dr. Lopez $1.5 million.

 

The Grapevine Effect 

The grapevine effect is an actual recognition by courts, by the ordinary function of human nature, the dissemination of defamatory material is rarely confined to the person to whom the matter was immediately published. The grapevine effect has traditionally been applied to publications including newspapers and magazines but is now increasingly used in cases of defamation via social media.  As such, the way that defamatory material can spread via the grapevine effect must be taken into account in assessing the amount of damages (compensation) the plaintiff receives in any settlement.

 

National Defamation Damages Experience

While our California defamation damages expert is based in Los Angeles, he has worked on cases in California, Texas, Flordia, Nevada, Wisconsin, Maryland, Washington, South Carolina, New York and has never been disqualified as an expert. Additional case studies and a Curriculum Vitae CV of our expert are available.

EXAMPLES OF OUR EXPERT WITNESS WORK

The bulk of our expert witness work has been in the areas of libel, slander, defamation, reputation repair, and damage to a individuals future professional career.

  • We provided expert testimony in a precedent-setting case involving Courtney Love, who was sued for posting a tweet about her former attorney. This was the first trial in the United States involving allegations of defamation on Twitter. We provided expert witness testimony regarding crisis communication, media relations, and reputation management. After an eight-day trial, a jury decided that Courtney Love should not be held liable for a tweet directed at her former attorney Rhonda Holmes.
  • We were an expert witness for a well-known doctor who sued his patient for defamatory comments on social media websites. We provided an expert opinion and analysis on how it is nearly impossible to remove defamation from the internet.  Our analysis included a detailed overview of the steps necessary for content removal and the cost of rehabilitating the doctor’s good name and businesses. We examined the impact and dissemination of the comments on social media websites and how those comments harmed the doctor’s professional reputation and economic condition. Our client won the case and was awarded the amount we recommended for rebuilding the doctor’s reputation.
  • A doctor sued two insurance companies after his patients began informing him that their pharmacists would no longer fill their prescriptions. Over six months the patients were being told (falsely) by the defendants that the doctor was a sanctioned provider by the federal government and unable to write prescriptions. We were retained to address the effects of the dissemination of false information to the doctor’s professional reputation, to determine the appropriate standard of care/crisis response that should have taken place, and to provide an overview of action necessary to recover the doctor’s good professional reputation. A three-judge binding arbitration panel heard the case and they awarded our client $1.5 million dollars.
  • Two doctors sued a third doctor for damage to their reputation after the third doctor allegedly spread false and defamatory information to employees, patients, the community and the media. We were retained to address the effects of disseminating false information on the doctor’s and practice’s professional reputations. We were asked to provide analysis and offer an opinion on the potential impact and damage to their image, examine the impacts to the practice as a result of the alleged acts and offer our expert opinion on the steps the plaintiffs should consider taking to recover their good professional reputation and lost business.   The case is pending.
  • Two people were on a second story deck with a concrete patio below when without warning the deck gave way underneath, and they fell to the concrete patio below, where they suffered serious injuries.  The injured people sued the manufacturer, the contractor, the wholesaler and the distributor.  We were retained by the distributor to provide analysis and offer an opinion regarding corporate communication, crisis management, the recall instructions.  We offered our views on the reports of the other experts who attempted to shift the blame to the distributor. The day after our deposition, the case settled, and our client did not have to pay any damages.
  • An insurance agency sued another insurance agency and the CEO for defamation and tortious interference based on false and defamatory statements which defendants communicated to the plaintiff’s current and potential customers, with the intent of trying to convince those customers not to do business with the company. The defendants allegedly repeatedly and intentionally communicated false statements to customers regarding the plaintiff’s business practices and the CEO publicly asserted false and defamatory communications with intent to harm our client’s reputation and interfere with current contractual and customer relationships.  We were asked to provide analysis and offered an opinion on the potential impact and damage to our client’s reputation.  We were also asked to offer an opinion regarding the steps our client should take in my opinion to repair the harm to its good professional reputation and to offer our professional opinion on damages associated with repairing the damage to our client’s professional reputation caused by the dissemination of the allegedly defamatory information.  The Federal Court case settled in May 2018.
  • Our client and a female employee were celebrating at a company dinner.  After the dinner, the female employee became intoxicated and exceedingly flirtatious with several males. Following dinner, the group broke up and our client eventually retired to his room.  The female employee perhaps embarrassed by her drunken displays and flirtatious behavior, concocted a false and defamatory story that evening about our client coming onto and propositioning her. She then spread malicious lies within the company about our client for the explicit purpose of retaliating and wrecking his reputation. We were asked to provide an analysis regarding the reputational harm to our client and to address the effects of disseminating false information. After a jury trial, our client was awarded $150,000.

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