“Good name in man and woman, dear my lord, is the immediate jewel of their souls; Who steals my purse steals trash, . . . but he that filches from me my good name robs me of that which not enriches him, and makes me poor indeed.” William Shakespeare, Othello.

Reputation is a valuable asset indeed, one that requires protection. In this social media era, damage to your reputation can happen in an instant – a false statement about you on Twitter or Facebook, or a false review of your business from a fake customer on Yelp takes but seconds to circle the globe. And the damage to you or to your business from such false statements is multiplied by the millions of social media users worldwide that can read them online.

Virginia defamation law protects your fundamental right to enjoyment of your reputation. Defamation is a term that encompasses both slander (spoken defamatory statements) and libel (written defamatory statements), and is defined as a false statement of fact made about another, of a type that concerns and harms the other or the other’s reputation, and is published to a third party in a non-privileged setting. For the victim of a defamatory statement, the damages can be substantial; for the maker of the statement, the liability can be tremendous. And for both parties, a defamation lawsuit can involve complex legal issues, demanding evidentiary standards, and the uncertainty and expense of a jury trial.

Frank Edgar Jr. has been handling defamation cases for over ten years and has tried three defamation cases to juries in the past three years alone. If you think you or your business has been defamed, it is important to contact Frank to understand your rights and what options are available to limit the damage and to recover what you may have lost. If you are accused of defamation, Frank can advise you on whether your statement may subject you to liability and, if so, what steps you can take immediately to reduce that liability.