Rohit Chhabra has successfully resolved numerous issues related to online reputation arising on the internet for both plaintiffs and defendants throughout California. Filing a defamation lawsuit can be tricky, especially in California due to the state's strong anti-SLAPP laws. Defense of such cases can even be more challenging.
In fact, it is well known that defamation law "is complex, requiring consideration of multiple factors." Barrett v. Rosenthal 40 Cal.4th 33, 56 (2006). Scholars have even called the law "... a forest of complexities, overgrown with anomalies, inconsistencies, and perverse rigidities." Eaton, The American Law of Defamation Through Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc., and Beyond: An Analytical Primer (1975) Va.L.Rev. pp. 1349-1451, 1350. Therefore, selecting an attorney who can navigate through this complex legal maze should be of utmost importance to both plaintiffs and defendants alike.
California's anti-SLAPP laws have often been misused by defendants. Contrary to common wisdom, practicing these laws may not be appropriate in every case. For example, a frivolous anti-SLAPP motion can back-fire and result in sanctions to the defendant who introduces the motion, in addition to the fees their attorneys may have charged them to present the motion. Therefore, careful analysis by an ethical and honest lawyer will serve the client's interest better than searching for an attorney with a lower billable rate. The old adage, "you get what you pay for" applies to lawyers as well.
HOW CAN CHHABRA® LAW HELP?
Attorney Rohit Chhabra understands the need to utilize the strategic nuances in defamation law. For plaintiffs, Rohit has successfully defeated anti-SLAPP motions so that the case can proceed further. Conversely, for defendants, Rohit has successfully won anti-SLAPP motions to terminate legal proceedings. Having an understanding of the laws from the perspective of both plaintiffs and defendants gives Rohit a superior edge over other attorneys in the field.
Rohit is skilled at resolving issues through complex analysis of electronic data and forensic resources and has consistently been rated as one of the best in the bay area. Whether you have been defamed online or have been falsely accused of defaming someone, Rohit can aggressively represent you with all facets of Internet defamation litigation.
ℹ️ Tip: We understand emotions are generally causing high levels of anxiety in matters where one's reputation is at stake, however, litigation may not be appropriate in each case. You may consider our cost effective non-litigation service that comes with a 100% money back guarantee. Our non-litigation service may be a great alternative for those who do not want to rely on the inherent uncertainty and expense that comes with litigation and want a faster resolution to their online defamation issues. How do we do it? We beat technology with technology! Rohit was a software developer before becoming an attorney and can combine his legal knowledge with a vast arsenal of software tools to assist you. For more information visit our Online Content Removal service page.
WHAT IS DEFAMATION?
Defamation requires a (1) false statement (2) made by one person about another, (3) which causes harm to a person’s business, profession, occupation, or reputation.
The key element is that the defamatory statement can be proven to be factually false (compare from 'opinion statements' below).
I AM A DEFENDANT BEING SUED FOR DEFAMATION.
Defamation requires a false factual assertion. That means, you need to have presented a statement that can be proven true or false. If you only expressed your opinion, you may be able to file an anti-SLAPP motion and have the case thrown out (read below about opinion statements and anti-SLAPP motions). Moreover, you may be entitled to your reasonable attorneys fees and costs.
I AM A PLAINTIFF, MY REPUTATION IS BEING TARNISHED.
This is perhaps the biggest problem in the day and age of social media (e.g., Yelp, Facebook, google, Twitter, etc.). People often write statements without considering the harm those statements can to one's reputation. Worse, in a society where the so called "cancel culture" has become the norm, we often hear about folks losing their jobs because of the defamatory statements.
However, before filing a lawsuit, the most important factor to consider is: whether a statement can be considered as an opinion. Judges often declare that opinions are not defamatory. Why? This is because, opinions are statements that can not be proven as true or false. This includes statements that are very subjective in nature. For example, if someone says Bob is garbage, it conveys ones subjective interpretation that they don't like Bob. Such statements are called rhetoric hyperbole because no one would believe that Bob is actual trash found in a dumpster. Nonetheless, it is still an opinion.
WHY OPINION STATEMENTS ARE GENERALLY NOT FALSE?
Defamation attorneys and judges often declare that opinions are not defamatory. But Why? This is because, opinions are statements that can not be proven as true or false. This includes statements that are very subjective in nature. For example, if someone does not like the food or service of a restaurant, that is considered as an opinion. One person's statements may differ from that of another and therefore a subjective interpretation can never be considered defamatory.
When can an opinion be considered defamatory?
An opinion statement may be defamatory when the underlying justification of the opinion is false. For example, if a person opines that no one should go to a particular restaurant that is, in itself, a non-defamatory opinion. However, if the person states that no one should go to the particular restaurant because they got sick after eating food there, then the opinion can be defamatory if the person lied and did not get sick or got sick because they ate something else. This is because now it can be proven whether eating at the particular restaurant made them sick.
WHAT IS AN ANTI-SLAPP MOTION?
One should never instantiate legal action simply because another expressed their opinion. Such lawsuits are called Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP). A SLAPP'd action is countered by an anti-SLAPP motion by defendant. If defendant wins the anti-SLAPP motion, then as a punishment for wrongfully instantiating a lawsuit, plaintiff is obligated to pay defendant's legal fee.
WHEN CAN AN OUT OF STATE DEFENDANT BE SUED IN CALIFORNIA?
As it relates to online defamation, out of state defendants sued in California should note, they may be able to challenge jurisdictional issues if they do not have any connection to California in a meaningful way. In this regard, the plaintiff's residence in California is not important and is not considered a factor unless defendant specifically wanted the statements to be read by readers in California.
Therefore, a defendant can only be sued in San Francisco bay area if he or she expressly aimed the defamatory statements in such a way that the California was the focal point of the defamatory statement. See Burdick v. Superior Court, 233 Cal. App. 4th 8, 20 (2015). It should be noted that the plaintiff has a burden of showing that defendant knew their actions online would cause plaintiff harm in California; plaintiff would have to point to that specific activity. Id.
Simply claiming that defendant knew or should have known his or her defamatory statement would cause harm in San Francisco bay area, or California in general, is not enough. Why? Because otherwise a defendant could be sued in any state in the nation where plaintiff claims he or she was injured at (aka forum shopping) and California courts see this as inherently unfair and detrimental to out of state defendants and their ability to mount a legal defense.
Needless to say, defendants can be sued in their home state. Thus, no jurisdictional issue arises when a defendant is sued in their home state.