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Can the facts of a legal case be made public without fear of claims of defamation by the Defendant?

In ongoing litigation, the Defendant is being sued for alleged conversion, profiteering and other charges after using investor money for personal gain. To date, the case has yet to be resolved but the Defendant continues to raise business funds. Can the public be informed of this individual's pending litigations via publicity without a reprisal claim of defamation of character if all written statements can be verified by public record?

Answers

Ken Pallante
Title: Dir Financial & Legal Services
Company: Twin Lakes Insurance Agency
(Dir Financial & Legal Services, Twin Lakes Insurance Agency) |

I would say yes, the public may be informed. Remember, truth is a valid defense to those that claim defamation or libel. If everything can be verified vis a vis the court record, you are good to go, IMO.

Topic Expert
Randy Miller
Title: Partner
Company: CFO Edge
(Partner, CFO Edge) |

Talk to your attorney before you do anything. While the information may be public information, you may negatively impact the plans and strategies your attorney is working on by creating a public debate. You may be safe from libel issues, but if you have investors or shareholders, your first duty is to them.
It may sound cruel, but if these facts are truly public record, than those people the defendant is soliciting have the ability to do their own due diligence.

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
Company: SBAConsulting.com
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, SBAConsulting.com) |

To expand on Randy's answer.

The only way to safely disclose litigation, since most courts now have e-filing systems that are open to the public to read, is by citing the court case and summarizing (accurately) the papers filed.

So, you can say "Smith Bros were sued in Municipal Court today by Harris and Daughters for $1,000,000. According the the papers filed, the cause of action claimed by Harris are.... Smith Bros have not filed their return motion ("Answer") as of yet, the return date is 15 days from date of filing. Harris & Daughters v Smith Bros, Municipal Court docket 1233212014"

Now you have stated the cause of action, their "Answer" hasn't been presented (because it isn't filed and you noted it is not late) and information how the public can do their due diligence. As long as you fairly summarized the court documents, you can't be sued...successfully.

In addition, strategy should be discussed and agreed upon by both the attorney and the client. The attorney is the legal "expert", the client, the business "expert" on their niche of their industry. Some the suit may have to do with "standard business practices".

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