3 Key Differences Between Defamation And Trade Libel

Comparing defamation and trade libel is like comparing apples and oranges. While both are similar (apples and oranges are fruit), they are fundamentally different in other ways.

One key difference between the two is with respect to the harm each is designed to address or protect. Defamation is meant to protect the reputation of the person, whereas trade libel is designed to compensate the plaintiff for pecuniary damage. The reason this distinction is critical is because " . . . trade libel requires pleading and proof of special damages in the form of pecuniary damages." Leonardini v. Shell Oil Co. (1989) 216 Cal.App.3 547, 572. However, proof of special damages solely in the form of pecuniary damages is not required to plead and prove a cause of action for damages.

A second difference is that plaintiff is required to plead and prove that a disparaging statement is false in regard to trade libel, whereas in a cause of action the plaintiff is NOT required to plead that the statements are false in most cases. Lipman v. Brisbane Elementary School Dist. (1961) 55 Cal.2d 224, 233.

Third, plaintiff may not recover damages for mental distress upon prevailing on a cause of action for trade libel. He or she is limited to the loss of pecuniary damages caused by the libelous statement or statements.

Understanding the differences between these torts will help you plan your strategy, whether you are the plaintiff or the defendant in a case.

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  1. Melissa says

    To whom it concerns,
    I have a strong feeling someone is sending out emails in my name saying that I am doing and saying things I am not. Like searches on the internet and just sending out emails that I’m not writing but making it seem as if I am writing them. They are also making it seem as if I am doing weird activity that I am not.
    And they know how I write because they stole all my personal writings in journals so now they think or are making it look as if this is automatically how I talk all the time.
    And I am not just assuming all of this. Some of it has been confirmed directly by other people. It has been going on for four months and it is more than just changing my password; it is a huge privacy and fraud issue because I am being made to look as if I am a certain way that I am not.
    And I do know these people but the longer I wait, the more of a problem it may be. People are discrediting me for baseless reasons. I have screwed up at certain work situations but other than that, not all of this is founded. I do know who these people are, and they are acting as if and making it seem like I didn’t know them either so that also discredits me. This has been damaging to everything.
    They have taken all of my personal information including my phone number and such and put it online for everyone to view. These people have committed so many different areas in the way of crime it seems to me and nobody has done anything. They have accused me of false crimes and just mostly made it look like I am this terrible paranoid crazy person who just wants to be a victim. So even in trying to get help, I’m already coming at people trying to manuever around the fact that they already think that I’m trying to summon up sympathy. Very few people are willing to listen to a crazy person.
    I just want this situation to stop. I am not out for the guys’ or whoever’s money. I just want the whole situation to stop. I do want recompense though for all this mental pain it has caused and for whatever lawyer but this is not my whole point. They have also made it seem like all I care about it money. I have absolutely no first impression left. I want it to stop.

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