Legal Memorandum: Elements of a Defamation Claim in VI

Issue: Under the laws of the Virgin Islands, what are the elements of a claim for defamation?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure, Personal Injury & Negligence
Keywords: Defamation; Publication
Jurisdiction: Virgin Islands
Cited Cases: None
Cited Statutes: Restatement (Second) of Torts § 558, 559
Date: 04/01/2015

Defamation occurs where:


(a)        a false and defamatory statement concerning another;


(b)        an unprivileged publication to a third party;


(c)        fault amounting at least to negligence on the part of the publisher; and


(d)       either actionability of the statement irrespective of special harm or the existence of special harm caused by the publication.

Restatement (Second) of Torts § 558; Jones v. L.S. Holdings, Inc., No. ST-06-CV-145, 2010 V.I. LEXIS 10, 3 (V.I. Super. Ct. Feb. 25, 2010) (Carroll, J.) (applying § 558).  “A communication is defamatory if it tends so to harm the reputation of another as to lower him in the estimation of the community or to deter third persons from associating or dealing with him.”  Restatement (Second) of Torts § 559.  Publication of defamatory matter concerning a corporation will subject one to liability to that corporation:

(a)        if the corporation is one for profit, and the matter tends to prejudice it in the conduct of its business or to deter others from dealing with it, or


(b)        if, although not for profit, it depends upon financial support from the public, and the matter tends to interfere with its activities by prejudicing it in public estimation.

Id. at § 561. “One who publishes a slander that ascribes to another conduct, characteristics or […]

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