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Nevada Law Library

Defamation Per Se

In Nevada, the elements for a claim of defamation per se are:

1.         False and defamatory statement by defendant concerning the plaintiff;

2.         Unprivileged publication of the statement to third party;

3.         Some level of fault amounting at least to negligence; and

4.         Actual or presumed damages.  Damages which will be presumed if the defamation tends to injure plaintiff in his business (defamation per se).

To constitute defamation per se, the statement must fall into one of four categories: “(1) that the plaintiff committed a crime; (2) that the plaintiff has contracted a loathsome disease; (3) that a woman is unchaste; or, (4) the allegation must be one which would tend to injure the plaintiff in his or her trade, business, profession or office.”  Nev. Indep. Broad. Corp., 99 Nev. 404, 409, 664 P.2d 337, 341.  Additionally, the defamatory comments must imply a “habitual course of similar conduct, or the want of the qualities or skill that the public is reasonably entitled to expect.”  See Restatement (Second) of Torts § 573 cmt. d (1977).  With per se liability, the plaintiff is entitled to presumed, general damages.  Nev. Indep. Broad., 99 Nev. 404, 409, 664 P.2d 337, 341.  If the defamation tends to injure the plaintiff in his or her business or profession, it is deemed defamation per se, and damages will be presumed. Chowdhry v. NLVH, Inc., 109 Nev. 478, 483, 851 P.2d 459,462 (1993); see also Nev. Ind. Broad. v. Allen, 99 Nev. 404, 409, 664 P.2d 337, 341 (1983); Carey v. Piphus, 435 U.S. 247, 262 n.18, 98 Sup.Ct. 1042, 1052 n.18, (U.S. 1978); Fallon Min. Co., Inc. v. Caddell, 77 Fed. Appx. 416, 9th Cir. (2003); Bonjovi v. Sullivan, 122 Nev. 556, 138 P.3d 433 (Nev. 2006); Burns v. Mayer, 175 F. Supp. 2d 1259 (D. Nev. 2001); Switzer v. Rivera, 174 F. Supp. 2d 1097 (D. Nev. 2001); Branda v. Sanford, 97 Nev. 643, 646, 637 P.2d 1223, 1225 (1981); Williams v. Univ. Med. Ctr. So. Nev., 688 F. Supp. 2d 1134 (D. Nev. 2010); W. Page Keeton, et al Prosser & Keaton On the Law of Torts § 112, at 788 (5th Ed. 1984).