1703. Defamation per quod—Essential Factual Elements (Private Figure—Matter of Public Concern)

Plaintiff claims that Defendant harmed him/her by making one or more of the following statements: insert all claimed per quod defamatory statements. To establish this claim, Plaintiff must prove all of the following:


1. That Defendant made one or more of the statements to persons other than Plaintiff;

2. That these people reasonably understood that the statements were about Plaintiff;

3. That because of the facts and circumstances known to the listeners/readers of the statements, they tended to injure Plaintiff in his/her occupation and/or to expose him/her to hatred, contempt, ridicule, or shame and/or to discourage others from associating or dealing with him/her;

4. That the statements were false;

5. That Defendant failed to use reasonable care to determine the truth or falsity of the statements;

6. That Plaintiff suffered harm to his/her property, business, profession, or occupation including money spent as a result of the statements; and

7. That the statements were a substantial factor in causing Plaintiff’s harm.

Actual Damages

If Plaintiff has proved all of the above, then he/she is entitled to recover if he/she proves that Defendant’s wrongful conduct was a substantial factor in causing any of the following actual damages:

a. Harm to Plaintiff’s property, business, trade, profession, or occupation;

b. Expenses Plaintiff had to pay as a result of the defamatory statements;

c. Harm to Plaintiff’s reputation; or

d. Shame, mortification, or hurt feelings

Punitive Damages

Plaintiff may also recover damages to punish Defendant if he/she proves by clear and convincing evidence that Defendant either knew the statements were false or had serious doubts about the truth of the statements, and that he/she acted with malice, oppression, or fraud.