Defamation - Libel & Slander

Your name and reputation are extremely important to you.  Depending on your profession, your reputation may be one of your most valuable assets. If someone makes a false and defamatory statement about you to others, it can seriously damage you at work and in your personal life.  You can be physically and emotionally injured, and in today's world, possibly permanently.  It can impact your relationships with your friends and family. You may even suffer loss of earnings, capacity to earn, and other economic damages.

Generally speaking, there are two types of defamation in North Carolina:

  1. Libel - False statements in written or graphic form; and,
  2. Slander - False statements in spoken form

North Carolina law describes two types of statements that can be defamatory in nature, defamatory per se and defamatory per quod.  Defamatory per se means that the words are inherently damaging and require no surrounding circumstance or other context for the statement to be understood as defamatory.  These include statements accusing you of a crime, claims that you have an infectious disease, discredits your profession or business, or subjects you to public disgrace, contempt, or ridicule.  If a statement made about you does not fit into one of these categories but was defamatory in the context or circumstance in which the statement was made, the statement may be defamatory per quod.  Both kinds of damages are compensatory and both are distinguishable from a statement of opinion.  Statements of opinion are not actionable.

Damages for a defamatory per se statement are called Presumed Damages.  This means you can be awarded damages for humiliation, embarrassment, damage to reputation, public disgrace, and distress.  In the instance of defamatory per quod statements, actual damages may have to be proven.

In order for a defamation claim to be viable, essential elements must be proven:

  • that the statement is defamatory
  • that the statement is false
  • the statement was published or spoken to some other person or third party
  • in some circumstances, that you have suffered actual damages; and,
  • in some circumstances, that the defendant published the falsity with actual malice

Download the PDF version of our
Guide to Defamation Lawsuits

Jim Johnson

James T. Johnson

Civil Litigator


(919) 833-5555

These issues can be hotly contested issues.  It is not uncommon for defendants to go to great lengths to prove the truth of their libel or slanderous utterance.  Defamatory statements published in a newspaper or media outlet may be barred from suit under the Fair Reporting Privilege. If the defamatory statement was made by a public official, actual malice must be proved in order to recover.

Defamation law is complex and there are time limitations that must be stringently adhered to. At DeMent Askew & Johnson, we understand that the loss and hurt someone endures after being publicly defamed, and the laws surrounding it. If you have been defamed, we will fight hard to ensure you are fully compensated for all you have been through, and help you understand your rights under those laws. We can ensure your strongest legal claims are being made and that pitfalls are avoided gracefully.  We are skilled defamation attorneys with over 40 years of experience.  We hold the record for the largest award in a defamation verdict ever in North Carolina. We can help you too.

Due to Demand, Defamation Consultation Fees are $400


Contact Us


(919) 833-5555


333 Fayetteville Street, #1513
Raleigh, NC 27601-2950




February 12, 2019

In a unanimous opinion filed on December 18, 2018, a three-judge Court of Appeals panel affirmed the $6.12 Million Dollar jury verdict Mr. Johnson and associate Chynna Smith won on behalf of their client, a former state firearms examiner, Beth Desmond, in her libel case against the Raleigh News & Observer and reporter Mandy Locke.…

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Estate of Elderly Mother of Three That Suffered Through Negligent Care at a Nursing Home Resulting in Death Receives Large Confidential Settlement

November 14, 2016

The deceased was a resident of a North Carolina nursing home. She had recently been sent to a local hospital for an unrelated illness and was recovering well from this prior illness. During this recovery period, she developed an ulcerous wound in and around her sacrum. The nursing home staff failed to timely detect the…

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North Carolina Crime Lab Firearms Examiner Wins 9 Million Dollar Verdict in 3 ½ Week Long Libel Jury Trial Against the News and Observer

October 14, 2016

9 Million Dollar Verdict is Top Verdict in North Carolina for 2016 as Reported by Lawyers Weekly! Attorney: James Johnson, Dement Askew Date of Verdict: October 2016 In 2006, North Carolina expert firearms examiner Beth Desmond was asked to examine some bullet fragments and shell casings from a homicide crime scene. The incident occurred in…

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Nurse at Local Hospital Involved in Automobile Collision Receives $300,000.00 Settlement After Extensive Litigation

February 11, 2019

Mr. Johnson’s client was driving north on Capital Blvd., approaching the intersection with Wake Union Church Road. The Defendant was driving south on Capital Blvd in a large SUV owned by a local landscaping company. As our client approached the intersection, the traffic light for her direction of traffic was emitting a steady green light.…

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Man Moving from Georgia to West Virginia to be Closer to Family Hit by 18-Wheeler in North Carolina Receives $140,000.00 Settlement After Extensive Litigation

January 14, 2019

Mr. Johnson’s client was driving a Dodge pick-up truck northeasterly on the on-ramp for traffic exiting off of I-485 and onto I-77 north in Charlotte. He was in the process of moving from Georgia to West Virginia and was pulling a U-Haul trailer. He had a full load in the bed of his truck. One…

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Long-time Sales Associate at Plumbing and HVAC Supply Company Receives Confidential Settlement as a Result of Medical Malpractice

July 11, 2016

DeMent Askew & Johnson’s client was in his yard filling a birdfeeder with birdseed when he fell and twisted his left leg in an awkward position. He immediately heard a crack and saw that his left ankle was turned in an awkward position. His wife called 911. EMS arrived and transported him to a local…

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Stroke Victim Resident of a Nursing Home that Was Raped by Co-Resident Receives Large Confidential Settlement

October 11, 2015

DeMent Askew’s client had suffered a stroke years ago. She could not speak as a result of the stroke, and she was also confined to a wheelchair. However, she was still very sharp mentally. She was residing in a nursing home because of her physical limitations. One day, a new resident appeared in the nursing…

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Single Mother on Her Way to Work Hit by Pick-Up Truck Running a Red Light Receives $122,500.00 Settlement Just Before Trial

September 14, 2015

DeMent Askew & Johnson’s client was driving south on Lake Wheeler Road in Raleigh on her way to work. She was approaching the intersection with Centennial Parkway and was intending to travel straight through the intersection. At the same time, the Defendant was driving a large pick-up truck traveling in a northerly direction on Lake…

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Part-Time Student and Restaurant Worker Attacked by Two Pit Bulls While Mowing Grass Receives $101,000.00 Settlement After Extensive Litigation Including Separate Lawsuit Regarding Insurance Coverage

February 11, 2019

On a summer afternoon, Mr. Johnson’s client was mowing the lawn at the residence of a friend house in Raleigh. The property line running along the back of where he was mowing the lawn runs alongside and is adjacent to the back of the yard of a house which was being kept two Pit Bull…

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