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Topic: Slander/Libel

What is the statute of limitations for a false light invasion of privacy claim under Tennessee law?

Posted on Aug 26 2013 3:16PM by Attorney, Jason A. Lee

Analysis:  The statute of limitations for a false light invasion of privacy claim is the same statute of limitations that applies to a claim for slander or libel, depending on where the false light claim is based on spoken or written words.  Tennessee keeps the statute of limitations consistent depending on if the words at issue are written or spoken.  The Tennessee Supreme Court in West v. Media Gen. Convergence, Inc., 53 S.W.3d 640, 648 (Tenn. 2001) held as follows:


we hold that false light claims are subject to the statutes of limitation that apply to libel and slander, as stated in Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 28–3–103 and 28–3–104(a)(1), depending on the form of the publicity, whether in spoken or fixed form.


The statute of limitations for a slander (verbal statements) claim in Tennessee is six months from the moment the words are uttered (the discovery rule does not apply to slander claims – See Quality Auto Parts, Inc. v. Bluff City Buick Co., Inc., 876 S.W.2d 818 (Tenn. 1994)) based on T.C.A. § 28-3-103, which provides:


Actions for slanderous words spoken shall be commenced within six (6) months after the words are uttered.


The statute of limitations for a libel (written words) claim in Tennessee is one year from the accrual of the cause...

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TAGS: Statute of Limitations, Slander/Libel Comments [0]

Real Estate Law - What is required to establish a slander of title claim under Tennessee Law?

Posted on Jan 2 2013 10:34PM by Attorney, Jason A. Lee

Analysis:  The Tennessee Court of Appeals in David Paczko v. SunTrust Mortgages, Inc., No. M2011-02528-COA-R3-CV, 2012 WL 4450896 (Tenn. Ct. App. September 25, 2012) discussed the requirements for a slander of title claim as well as the related claim to quiet title.  This case involved a dispute over the plaintiff’s property that was foreclosed against by the defendants.  The plaintiff sought to enjoin the bank from going forward with the foreclosure proceeding and to clear the title. Paczko at 1. 


The court found that in order to be successful with a claim for slander of title, the plaintiff must establish the following:

(1) that the [plaintiff] has an interest in the property, (2) that the defendant published false statements about the title to the property, (3) that the defendant was acting maliciously, and (4) that the false statements proximately caused the plaintiff a pecuniary loss.

Paczko at 3.  (citing Brooks v. Lambert, 15 S.W.3d 482, 484 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1999)).  The court further noted that in order to bring an action to quiet title, the plaintiff must “have an interest in the property at issue."  Once the interest in the property ceases, the plaintiff no longer has a justiciable claim for an action to quiet title. Paczko at 3.


In this case the court found that because the plaintiffs acknowledged the property was foreclosed upon and sold during the pendency of the lawsuit and they were not seeking to recover the property, they no longer had an interest in the property. Paczko at 3.  The fact the case was justiciable and able to be decide...

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TAGS: Defenses, Real Estate, Civil Procedure, Slander/Libel Comments [0]

Defamation of Character – “Libel” and “false light invasion of privacy” claims under Tennessee Law

Posted on Oct 9 2012 10:17AM by Attorney, Jason A. Lee

Brief Summary:  Libel is a recognized claim under Tennessee law and truth is a defense to a libel claim.  False light invasion of privacy is a recognized claim under Tennessee law where truth is not a defense.  As a result, one can be held liable for making a statement that gives an offensive impression about another in a false light even if the statement is technically true.


Analysis:  The recent Tennessee Court of Appeals decision of Daniel B. Eisenstein v. WTVF-TV, News Channel 5 Network, LLC, M2011-02208-COA-R3-CV, 2012 WL 3090307 (Tenn. Ct. App. July 30, 2012) provided a great discussion on the torts of libel and false light invasion of privacy.  This is an interesting case that has received some media attention due to the subject matter.  Specifically, Davidson County General Sessions Court Judge Daniel Eisenstein brought a claim against News Channel 5 Network in Nashville, Tennessee asserting that News Channel 5 committed libel and false light invasion of privacy in two news stories that were completed in 2010 and 2011. Eisenstein at 1.  This case is certainly interesting reading, however, the details of the case are not important for this post.  I would, however, encourage anyone who is interested in these types of claims to read the full lengthy opinion. 


There is a broad category of torts in Tennessee referred to as defamation.  Defamation includes libel, slander, false light invasion of privacy and other causes of action.  Libel is simply a form of the broader category of defamation.  Generally, libel involves a written defamation.  Eisenstein at 1.  News broadcasts "should be considered libel; particularly if they are based on written scripts."  Eisenstein at 1. (quoting Ali v. Moore, 984 S.W.2d 224, 227 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1998)). 


In order to establish a prima facia case of defamation (usually slander or libel) the plaintiff must prove the following elements:


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TAGS: Slander/Libel Comments [0]

Tennessee Statutes of Limitation – Statutes of Limitation for Common Tennessee Causes of Action

Posted on Aug 23 2012 8:13AM by Attorney, Jason A. Lee

This post will address the statutes of limitation for several common Tennessee causes of action.  I will also provide the Tennessee statute that is the source for the statutes of limitation for each cause of action.  


It must be noted that fact specific inquiries need to be completed for each and every case.  Each case could have specific facts that could impact whether the statute of limitations bars a particular claim.  The “discovery rule” is one doctrine that has been applied to some Tennessee causes of action.  The Tennessee Supreme Court has found the discovery rule “provides that the statute of limitations begins to run when the injury is discovered, or in the exercise of reasonable care and diligence, the injury should have been discovered. The rule responds to the unfairness of requiring that he [a plaintiff] sue to vindicate a non-existent wrong, at a time when injury is unknown and unknowable.”  Quality Auto Parts v. Bluff City Buick, 876 S.W.2d. 818, 820 (Tenn. 1994).  There are other potential exceptions to Tennessee statutes of limitation including exceptions for minors or those deemed incompetent under certain circumstances.  See T.C.A. § 28-1-106.


The causes of action and the Tennessee statute of limitation for each are as follows:


1.          Slander - "within six (6) months after the words are uttered."  (See T.C.A. § 28-3-103)

2.          Civil actions for compensatory or punitive damages brought under the Federal Civil Rights statutes - 1 year statute of limitation (See T.C.A. § 28-3-104(a)(3))

3.          False Imprisonment - 1 year statute of limitation (See T.C.A. § 28-3-104(a)(1))

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TAGS: Negligence, Malicious Prosecution, Tennessee Medical Malpractice/Health Care Liability, Statute of Limitations, Civil Procedure, Contracts, Products Liability, Slander/Libel, Wrongful Death Comments [2]

Jason A. Lee is a Member of Burrow Lee, PLLC. He practices in all areas of defense litigation inside and outside of Tennessee.

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Tennessee Defense Litigation Blog
Jason A. Lee, Member of Burrow Lee, PLLC
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Phone: 615-540-1004
E-mail: jlee@burrowlee.com