REV. AL SHARPTON WINS DEFAMATION LAWSUIT FILED TOO LATE
Defamation means making untrue statements about another, damaging his reputation. If someone defames you, you have a relatively short time frame to take legal action. If you are involved, say, in a car accident, you generally have two years to sue for your injuries. However, in a defamation case, you only have one year.
Some Atlantic City, New Jersey firefighters recently found this out the hard way. Rev. Al Sharpton founded the National Action Network. The Network issued a press release accusing one of the firefighters of exposing himself in the presence of young women. The press release accused other firefighters of failing to try and stop the alleged offensive conduct.
The firefighters sued Rev. Sharpton and the Network, among others. Unfortunately for the firefighters, they filed their lawsuit more than one year after the press release. Presumably, to get around that problem, they claimed that they were suing for intentional infliction of emotional distress, not defamation.
The trial judge didn’t buy it. The judge thus ruled that any way you slice it, the firefighters really alleged defamation. Therefore, the trial judge threw the case out of court.
Accordingly, the firefighters appealed. Unfortunately for them, the appeals court saw things the same way. The firefighters had sued too late. Rev. Al Sharpton and the other defendants in the case won. It did not matter whether the firefighters had been defamed.
The appeals court also noted the ironic fact that the firefighters had even filed their appeal late. The court could have refused to even hear the appeal. However, since Sharpton and the network didn’t ask to dismiss the appeal for lateness, the appeals court heard the case.
Don’t Delay Filing for Defamation
If you are ever the victim of defamation, you need to see an attorney immediately. A lawsuit takes time to prepare. If you wait until just before the deadline, it may be too late.
By the way, if you ever are accusing the government of doing something wrong, your deadline may be even shorter. For example, the deadline for filing a tort claim against the state of New Jersey is only 90 days.
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