In this comprehensive blog post, we’re going to walk you through what slander of title is, its requisite elements, damages associated with slander of title, several slander of title examples, and how it compares to other Common law torts (such as defamation and trade libel) in the United States.
- Slander of title is a specialized common law tort which refers to a false statement, published by a third party or entity, which disparages a person or entity’s title to property and causes financial harm or loss.
- Slander of title differs from defamation in that it specifically deals with the plaintiff’s property, rather than the plaintiff’s reputation. Slander of title is actually somewhat of a misnomer and mislabeling, as it requires the recordation or publication of a disparaging statement, and is not in fact typically oral in nature. Slander of title also differs from trade libel, as trade libel concerns itself with a disparaging or false statement about a person or entity’s product or service, rather than its property.
- In order to succeed in a slander of title lawsuit, a plaintiff will likely have to prove the following elements:
- A false or disparaging statement about a person’s property,
- It’s published to a third party besides the plaintiff,
- The statement was in fact true, due to the plaintiff owning the property,
- The defendant acted with knowledge or with reckless disregard as to the veracity of the statement,
- The defendant should have known or recognized a third party might rely on such statement and cause financial harm to the plaintiff,
- The plaintiff did actually suffer financial harm as a direct result of a third party’s reliance on such statement, and
- The defendant’s conduct was directly attributable and a substantial factor in the causing of such harm.
Online Defamation Law Fact: Defamation per se is a legal concept which recognizes certain statements as so inherently defamatory, that a libel or slander plaintiff need not actually prove they suffered harm or damage. Defamation per se generally covers four types of statements: (1) statements charging the plaintiff with having committed a crime, (2) statements imputing a loathsome or sexual disease on the plaintiff, (3) statements implying a plaintiff is unchaste, and (4) statements which adversely affect a plaintiff’s trade, profession, or professional practice.
If you’ve been the victim of slander of title or other false attacks online, contact the online defamation removal attorneys of Minc Law ASAP! At Minc Law, we specialize in the removal of online defamation and false, malicious comments and attacks. In our tenure as nationally recognized online defamation lawyers, we’ve removed over 25,000 pieces of content and websites, litigated in over 22 states and 3 countries, and boast a nearly 100% takedown and removal rate. And, we do it all for a flat, reasonable fee.
We also have experience in the removal of revenge porn as well. So, if you’ve been attacked or defamed online, don’t hesitate and call us now!
We’re here to fight for you!
Table of Contents
The Facts: What is Slander of Title?
Although utilizing the term “slander” within its title, ‘slander of title’ is actually a misnomer, as it does not deal with a spoken statement which adversely affects a person or entity’s title to property. Slander of title refers to a false statement, published by a third-party or entity, which disparages or “libels” another person or entity’s title to property and causes financial loss. Slander of title also covers the lodging of an aspersion on a person or entity’s property, goods, or business, and false claims of ownership of another person or party’s copyright.
For example, aspersion of another person or entity’s property could entail the assertion that a house is infested with cockroaches or vermin (when in reality, it isn’t). Slander of title is a much more “narrowed down” tort in the United States, and differs quite significantly from defamation (we’ll address this in Section 2).
Slander of title lawsuits are applicable in a variety of circumstances, including in cases of the invalid filing of a real property lien, or in any type of situation involving a recordable instrument which is recorded by one without actual title or privilege. It’s important to understand that slander of title does not require the actual recordation of an instrument or lien, just the publication and broadcasting of it. An example of publication or broadcasting might occur in a situation where a party places a sign in someone’s yard or in front of it with a false and disparaging statement.
For reference, slander of title may sometimes be referred to as:
- Disparagement of title,
- Disparagement of property,
- Defamation of title, and
- Interference with prospective advantage.
Under modern United States jurisprudence, slander of title may reasonably be considered by some to be a form of tortious interference with business. If you’re unsure of whether you have a claim for slander of title or online defamation, we recommend you reach out to an experienced online defamation lawyer today!
Online Defamation Removal Tip:Keep in mind that a state’s defamation statute of limitations will likely differ, depending on whether you’re dealing with a libelous or slanderous statement. As slanderous statements are spoken, the evidence surrounding it is fleeting and generally requires a plaintiff bring their claim within a shorter period of time than a libel claim. Make sure to familiarize yourself with your state’s respective libel and slander statutes of limitations, otherwise you may be barred from bringing your claim altogether.
Now, let’s turn to the fundamental differences between defamation and slander of title!
Differences Between Defamation & Slander of Title
As we noted above, slander of title is actually an incorrect labeling, as slander refers to a false, oral statement or communication made to a third party, which subsequently causes harm or damage to another’s reputation. Defamation is the overarching term for false statements, publications, and communications which damage or harm another person’s reputation (and is comprised of slander and libel). Let’s take a look at the defamation’s two fundamental types:
- Libel: a written or published (includes anything fixed in a tangible medium) false statement of fact to a third party, which causes harm or damage to another person’s reputation.
- Slander: a spoken or oral statement of false fact to a third party, which causes harm or damage to another person’s reputation.
Slander of title requires actual publication, so often takes a written form, and it affects a person’s property rights, rather than their reputation. Such published form is usually a recordation of one’s right to property.
It’s important to understand that while slander of title and defamation differ in substance, most of the defenses and privileges associated with defamation will apply to slander of title cases. Just keep in mind that the false words and statements in slander of title actions have no bearing on the character or reputation of the plaintiff – just their property.
Online Defamation Law Fact:If you have a business or offer a professional service, we strongly recommend setting up a Google Alerts account. Doing so is an effective and proactive way to monitor your online search presence, and identify defamatory and libelous statements as soon as they are posted. Any business or professional who is serious about protecting their online reputation should be implementing a proactive approach towards combating online defamation!
Some common examples of slander of title include:
- The placement and recordation of a fraudulent lien on one’s property,
- Claiming title or lease to a property, preventing its sale to another person,
- Forbidding the auction sale of a property on the ground that the person selling has no right to do so,
- Recording or filing a false instrument which governs or affects title to a property.
Common examples of defamation include:
- False statements imputing a sexual or loathsome disease on a person,
- False statements charging a person with having committed a crime,
- False statements concerning a person’s trade or profession,
- False statements accusing a person of having cheated on a spouse.
It’s also important to understand the distinction between slander of title and trade libel, which we’ll address in section 4.
Libel Removal Fact: When confronting online defamation, it’s incredibly important to recognize the form in which it’s conveyed. If you encounter defamation online, it likely will fall under the category of libel – which refers to a written or published false assertion of fact which causes harm or damage to another’s reputation. This also includes videos and other media. Libel covers everything fixed in a tangible medium. Slander refers to an oral or spoken false statement of fact which damages another person’s reputation.
3 Slander of Title Examples
In this section, we’re going to walk you through three slander of title examples, how California, New York, and Ohio define slander of title, and several specific nuances related to slander of title claims in each state.
If you’re unsure of your state’s respective slander of title laws and think you may have a claim, reach out to the defamation removal attorneys of Minc Law today!
Slander of Title California
California has drafted their own definition of slander of title, adopting their definition from section 624 of the Restatement of Torts which reads: “One who, without a privilege to do so, publishes matter which is untrue and disparaging to another’s property in land, chattels or intangible things under such circumstances as would lead a reasonable man to foresee that the conduct of a third person as purchase or lessee thereof might be determined thereby is liable for pecuniary loss resulting to the other from the impairment of vendibility thus caused.”
To establish a claim for slander of title in California, a plaintiff must prove the following elements:
- The defendant made a statement which casts doubt about the ownership of property,
- The statement was published to another person (any person besides the plaintiff),
- The statement was untrue, as the plaintiff did in fact own property,
- The defendant knew or acted with reckless disregard in respect to the truth or falsity of the statement,
- The defendant knew or should have recognized that others may act in reliance of such statement, ultimately causing financial loss to the plaintiff,
- The plaintiff did in fact suffer direct and immediate financial harm or loss because of someone’s reliance on that statement, and
- The defendant’s conduct was a substantial factor/reason in causing such harm.
California courts have also noted that slander of title doesn’t only occur in cases of full denial of title to property, but will also extend to situations where a defendant’s statement “throws doubt” upon its ownership. M.F. Farming, Co.v. Couch Distributing Co. (2012) 207 Cal.App.4th 180, 198–199 [143Cal.Rptr.3d 160].
And while the severity of the tort of slander of title is different from personal defamation in the state of California, virtually all the same privileges are recognized as a defense – absolute, qualified, fair report, statutory, etc…
Slander of Title Ohio
Slander of title in Ohio is defined as “a tort action which may be brought against any one who falsely and maliciously defames the property, either or personal, of another, and thereby causes him some special pecuniary damage or loss.” Green v. Lemarr (2000), 139 Ohio App.3d 414, 430, 744 N.E.2d 212. Specifically, Ohio courts require a plaintiff prove the following four (4) elements when bringing a slander of title action:
- “There was a publication of a slanderous statement disparaging claimant’s title;
- The statement was false,
- The statement was made with malice or made with reckless disregard for its falsity; and
- The statement caused actual or special damages.”
The Court in Green v. Lemarr noted that most slander of title cases usually involve documents being filed against property, by parties who are claiming an interest in the property. They further go on to note that the wrongful recordation of an unfounded claim to property of another will constitute slander of title.
It’s important to remember that slander of title in Ohio requires more than a mere proving of damage to another person’s reputation (such as in defamation claims), and requires plaintiffs prove a “special pecuniary loss” – or a loss of money or income directly resulting from a false statement or filing. This could include such situations as the lost opportunity of a seller to sell their property, or sell it for a lower price.
Slander of Title New York
Under New York law, the tort of slander of title requires a plaintiff prove:
- There was a statement which falsely casted doubt on the validity of a party’s title,
- Such statement is reasonably calculated to cause harm, and
- Such statement does in fact result in special damages.
Specifically, New York’s definition focuses on the impairment of the marketability of property. Rosenbaum v. New York, 8 NY3d 1 .
There has been some confusion in New York with regards to slander of title and the filing of a notice of pendency. Some New York defendants have alleged that the filing of a notice of pendency under illegitimate and improper circumstances will constitute slander of title. However, there’s sufficient case law backing the fact that notices of pendency do not give rise to an action for slander of title due to notices of pendency equating to an “undeniably true statement.” As they are undeniably true statements, this fails to satisfy the first element of a slander of title claim – falsity of a statement.
Ohio Defamation Law Fact:In order to determine whether an allegedly defamatory statement is in opinion or defamation, Ohio courts look to the specific language used, whether the statement in question is verifiable as fact, the general context of the statement, and the broader context in which the statement appeared. Furthermore, Ohio courts approach this four prong analysis from the perspective of a “reasonable reader.”
Have you been the victim of slander of title or other defamatory comments? Reach out to the defamation removal lawyers of Minc Law now! At Minc Law, we know the ins and outs of U.S. defamation law. In our storied tenure, we’ve worked tirelessly with countless website administrators, content managers, and third party arbitration firms to secure swift and permanent removals.
Rest assured when working with the Cleveland-based lawyers of Minc Law, you’re in good hands.
The online abuse stops now!
Slander of Title vs. Trade Libel
The tort of trade is a form of what’s known as ‘injurious falsehood’ and quite similar to slander of title. However, there are a few minor differences. Specifically, trade libel refers to the disparagement and false statements about a plaintiff’s product or service, rather than the title to their property.
For reference, California requires the following seven (7) elements be proven in order to succeed in a claim for trade libel:
- The defendant made a statement which was understood to have disparaged the quality of a plaintiff’s product or service;
- The statement was published to a third party (other than the plaintiff);
- The statement was false;
- The defendant knew or acted with reckless disregard in regards to the truth or falsity of the statement;
- The defendant should have recognized a person might act in reliance on such statement;
- The plaintiff suffered directed financial loss or harm due to someone acting in reliance of the statement;
- The defendant’s actions and conduct were a substantial factor in causing such harm.
Trade libel has created considerable confusion in the courts due to the various terms thrown around in the legal arena, including; commercial disparagement, injurious falsehood, product disparagement, and slander of goods. Such shifting attitudes and names for the term has caused counsel and courts to believe they were dealing with different bodies of law, when in reality, all labels roughly refer to the same legal claim.
Brand Reputation & Monitoring Tip:If you own your own business or engage in the sale of real estate, we strongly recommend establishing a brand reputation and monitoring budget. Doing so is a great way to combat online slander of title and defamation, and identify intellectual property infringers. It’s also an effective method to gauge the general public’s perception of your product, service, or business.
Finally, keep in mind that not all legal actions relating to a claim on land will be considered slander of title!
Work With Online Defamation Removal Attorneys Today!
Have you been the victim of slander of title, disparagement, or other false and malicious online attacks? Reach out to the defamation removal attorneys of Minc Law today! At Minc Law, we know defamation law. In our time as nationally recognized defamation removal attorneys, we’ve secured the removal of over 25,000 pieces of libelous content and websites, litigated in over 22 states and 3 countries, and boast a nearly 100% online defamation removal and takedown rate. And, we do it all for a flat reasonable fee.
It’s time to take back your online reputation and start controlling your digital narrative.
Here’s what you can expect when working with the online defamation removal lawyers of Minc Law:
- Open Communication & Dialogue: We understand how important it is to be kept up-to-date with the details of your case and take down, so rest assured, we’re here to keep you in the loop.
- Courtesy & Respect: Online defamation can be not only invasive but stressful as well, so know that we are always on your side. We’re here to further your best interests. After all, your goals are our goals.
- Websites & Businesses Respond to Minc Law: As we noted above, we’ve removed over 25,000 pieces of defamatory online content in our tenure, and know who to work with and how to work with them. Websites and businesses respond to the defamation attorneys of Minc Law!