As Ft. Myers contractor lawyers, we represent construction industry professionals that need legal assistance in a variety of areas of construction law. One area you may need help with is defamation claims. In the following four-part article, we first covered what defamation is. In the second and third section, we will continue to discuss different situations when a construction professional may or may not be protected. In the final section, we will discuss how to avoid being accused of defamation.
As we covered in the last section, sometimes contractors are protected from defamation claims because they have qualified privilege with the party they shared information with. However, they are not always protected. Here are examples when a contractor may not be protected.
We have all read news stories in which one party leaked defamatory information to the media about the affected party. In construction law, this can happen when privileged information about a project is made public via a news journalism medium. Media leaks of confidential information pertaining to an ongoing project can destroy a construction professional’s reputation and lead to a defamation claim.
Sometimes during the bidding process one contractor may feel inclined to drag a competing contractor’s name through the mud in order to ensure that they are selected for the project over that competitor. If there is evidence of an ulterior motive at play that inspired the statement, this could lead to a defamation claim. Simply put, if the statement was not made to assist the owner with their project, but rather to further the business prospects of the person that made the remark, protection is lost.
Telling a Third Party
In some cases, there may be an ongoing dispute between two primary construction professionals that has caused an extended project delay, such as the contractor and the owner. However, if one party publicly blames the opposing party for the delay this could lead to a defamation claim. For example, if neighbors complain about an incomplete project near their residence and the owner notifies the neighborhood that the contractor is to blame because of his poor quality of work, this could lead to a defamation claim. Although the neighborhood may care about the completion date of the project, they do not classify as a qualified privilege party to be told that information.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.