In this article, we explain Iowa defamation laws, including libel and slander, and discuss suing for defamation in Iowa. We will answer the following questions:
Defamation in Iowa is considered any statement, written or oral, that can bring harm to a person’s reputation, incite hatred, or result in economic hardship for a business. Libel and slander are the two torts under Iowa defamation law; libel refers to written statements and slander refers to oral statements. Defamation laws in Iowa are meant to protect an Iowa resident’s rights to enjoy a reputation unmarred by false and defamatory attacks.
When a plaintiff brings a cause of action against the defendant for statements made to a third party by the defendant, whether with actual malice of negligently, it is the plaintiff responsibility to prove the alleged defamatory statement meets the following criteria:
Concerning defamation, the law considered government officials (current or retired) and celebrities (newly established or longstanding) public individuals. Most defamation claims brought by a public figure include stories posted or reported on by the media. Public figures in Iowa have a harder time litigating defamation cases because they must prove the statement was made with actual malice, meaning the statement is false or mostly false and knowingly published by the media outlet with a reckless disregard for the truth.
Iowa law enables individuals to defend themselves against defamation lawsuits on the basis of truth. This means that if the defendant’s party can prove the alleged defamatory statement is true then the claim will likely be dismissed. Other defenses against defamation include:
In Iowa, news outlets enjoy the fair reporting privilege, allowing them to retract a story within two weeks of it being published. If retracted the news outlet can still be on the hook for damages to the plaintiff, but they will likely be reduced. If the story is not retracted the news agency will be subject to the full degree of damages sought by the plaintiff.
Under Iowa law, two types of defamation exist, defamation per se and defamation per quod. Defamation per se consists of statements the law considers to be automatically damaging and for which damages need not be proven. In defamation per quod, the plaintiff must prove monetary damages resulting from the defendant’s alleged defamatory statement.
The following types of statements generally qualify as defamation per se:
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