Can I sue for defamation of character if someone falsely claims I forged their signature on a legal document?

UPDATED: Jun 28, 2012

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Can I sue for defamation of character if someone falsely claims I forged their signature on a legal document?

My roommate agreed to move out after failing to pay rent and bills. She signed a 30 day notice and we gave it to our landlord. Long story short, she never intended to move out and in order to prevent our landlord from taking her off the lease she emailed them that we had forged her signature and are forcefully removing her things off the property (both not true). Can we sue her for defamation of character?

Asked on June 28, 2012 under Personal Injury, California


Cameron Norris, Esq. / Law Office of Gary W. Norris

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Nice roommate.  The short answer is yes.  Defamation branches out into two categories: slander and libel.  Slander is verbal defamation, while libel is usually written and published.  Some narrow categories of slander are considered "libel per se" because they are so damaging to one's reputation.  However, this situation is not included in those categories. 

So, you could sue for any damages that have arisen from her slanderous statement, including any lease costs that flow from her false statement.  However, it is a long arduous legal process and even the fees are expensive.  I would suggest trying to work it out with the landlord or finding someone to sublease your spot in the apartment/house, then walk away.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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