Real Estate Law

Contractor’s Beware – Careful What You Say: It May Be Actionable Defamation

By Neil Lowenstein

The Virginia Supreme Court recently held that a contractor could sue a competitor for defamation for asserting to the plaintiff contractor's client that the plaintiff contractor told the competitor he was going to "screw" the client. The lower court had dismissed the defamation claim, concluding that competitor's statements were opinion. The Virginia Supreme Court reversed, holding that under the specific facts the competitor's statement was one of fact, not mere opinion. The case is Tharpe v. J. Harman Saunders, No. 120985, Feb. 28, 2013. Bottom-line: be careful what you say about your competitors; it just might be actionable defamation.

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