Defamation (Libel & Slander)
A claim for defamation (including both libel and slander) generally requires showing that a person made a false and defamatory statement about another person; that the statement was made without privilege; that the person’s fault in making the statement amounted to at least negligence; and that the statement caused special harm or is actionable regardless of whether it caused special harm.
A statement is generally considered defamatory if it tends to injure the victim in his trade, profession, or community standing. A statement is privileged if it is the sort of statement that the law deems protected speech (such as under common law or constitutional principles). A statement may be deemed actionable regardless of whether it caused special harm if, for example, the statement accused the victim of having committed a serious crime.
A defamation claim generally must be brought within one year of the date on which the claim accrues.
[Sources: Douglas C. Melcher, Tort Claims and Defenses in the District of Columbia § 16 (2014), and legal authorities cited therein.]