Slander, simply defined as the oral communication of false statements that are harmful to an individual's reputation, can be grounds for civil litigation. The state of Alabama imposes statutes relating to slander cases to protect the plaintiff and the defendant. To lawfully seek damages for slander, the case must meet statutory requirements as defined by Alabama law.
Statute on Time Limits
Under Alabama law, the plaintiff in civil cases relating to slander must file suit within two years from the time the alleged slander occurred. Suit must be filed in the appropriate court of jurisdiction, and proper notice must be served to the defendant in the matter through process of certified mail. When filing, the petitioner must include cause for the filing, the date the alleged incident occurred and the last known address of the defendant, if known. The defendant must issue a formal response within 30 days. If defendant fails to do so, the court may enter a judgment by default on behalf of the plaintiff. The plaintiff must then attempt to collect on the judgment within two years of the order, or risk loss of damages.
Slander of Title
According to Alabama Code Section 6-5-211, the owner of real estate may also file suit for slander in the event statements are made that knowingly and maliciously impugning the title to his property. In this event, the petitioner is responsible for filing suit within the same two-year time frame as is required when filing suit in a standard slander case. The defendant must also issue a formal response within the standard 30-day time frame or risk judgment by default.
Statutes on Evidence
Under Alabama law, evidence of truth or circumstances may be presented as an absolute defense to slander. Alabama Code Section 6-5-183 dictates that any defendant who can show evidence that statements he made against the plaintiff, which resulted in accusations of slander, are true or were in good faith believed to be true at the time the statements were made, may use that evidence as denial of fault.
In rare instances, Alabama law does not require tangible proof of slander. Under Alabama Code Section 6-5-181, spoken words falsely imputing a woman's chastity are considered actionable and may be presented without proof of special damages. In this instance, the words may also be written or printed, which would also include damages for libel under Alabama law.
Statues on Damages
Alabama law dictates that plaintiffs in a slander case may only collect damages on actual monies lost as a result of a direct impact on their business or job loss as a result of the slanderous statement. If the plaintiff in a slander case cannot show clear and convincing evidence of monies lost as a direct result of the slanderous act, no financial damages may be collected under Alabama law. The only exceptions to this rule under Alabama law is if the slanderous statements contained accusations that the plaintiff had committed a crime, is inflicted with a loathsome disease, affects the plaintiff's profession or indicates a lack of sexual purity.
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