When involved in the running or managing of a business, one must always be mindful of the mistakes and wrongdoing that could possibly occur, and how the business will ultimately be affected. There are two areas of the law which deal with these types of problems, consisting of tort and criminal law. A tort is a civil wrong, which does not arise from a contract, and involves injuries to particular persons or property, whereas a crime is considered a public wrong, which is punishable by the state.
In tort law, there are three different kinds of torts, including intentional, negligent, and strict liability. An intentional tort requires that the defendant meant to do a certain action, but not necessarily to harm a person or thing. Negligence is a situation in which harm is caused by accident, and strict liability is where harm is done, but one is responsible without proof of carelessness or blame. In tort cases, the injured party can seek compensatory damages, which could be medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and more. An injured party might also seek punitive damages, which are designed to punish the person at fault or prevent the same thing from happening again.
There are many different areas of intentional torts that can arise from an act of intent. Some of these torts committed against a person are battery, assault, false imprisonment, fraud, defamation, and others. Some of the intentional torts committed against property are trespass to real property, trespass to personal property, conversion, and nuisance.
Defamation is defined as discrediting a person's reputation by oral or written publication. Slander is the spoken form of the tort, and libel is defamation in print or some other tangible form, such as a picture, movie, video, and many times a radio or television statement is also considered libel. There are three things necessary in order to prove defamation, including (1) a false statement, (2) harm to the victim's reputation, and (3) publication of the statement, which must reach someone other than the person being defamed. Defamation can occur toward any living person or organization, but public figures must also prove malice, which generally requires a showing of actual knowledge of the falsehood or reckless disregard for the truth.
Although a person is usually required to show actual harm in a case of slander, sometimes the statements are so innately damaging that the person need not show actual damage. Statements of this kind include allegations of serious sexual misconduct, commission of a serious crime, professional incompetence, or having a loathsome disease, and are called slander per se. Libel also does not generally require a showing of actual harm.
This area of tort law is exhibited clearly in a St. Louis Post Dispatch article by Michael White. The article, titled "Brown & Williamson fights movie depiction," is about a cigarette maker attacking Wlalt Disney for distorting...