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Defamation Miscellaneous: Cases Summarized

The cases below are a compilation of cases from the Virginia Supreme Court summarized by Brien Roche dealing with the topic of  defamation miscellaneous and the related topic of intentional torts. For more information on defamation see the pages on Wikipedia.

Defamation Miscellaneous-Statutes

Va. Code § 8.01-46 as to apology being considered in mitigation of damages.


See Va. Code § 8.01-247.1 as to two year limitation.


See Va. Code §§ 18.2-416 and 18.2-417 as to criminal penalties.


See Va. Code §§ 18.2-499 and 18.2-500 as to combinations to injure others in their reputation, trade, business or profession.

Defamation Miscellaneous-Cases

2006 Bowie v. Murphy, 271 Va. 126, 624 S.E.2d 74.

As a general rule, courts lack subject matter jurisdiction to resolve issues of church governance and disputes over religious doctrine. This prohibition arises from the religion clauses of the Constitution. In this case, the circuit court improperly ruled that it lacked jurisdiction to resolve defamation claims since these involved issues properly left under the exclusive control of the church. That decision was incorrect since the court’s involvement would not have entangled it in issues regarding church governance or matter of faith and doctrine. That is, in this case, these issues could have been resolved by reference to neutral principles of law without reference to issues of faith and doctrine.

1998 Jordan v. Shands, 255 Va. 492, 500 S.E.2d 215.

Defamation miscellaneous.One-year statute of limitations applies to defamation action. Cause of action accrues when defamatory statement is made.

1981 Fleming v. Moore, 221 Va. 884, 275 S.E.2d 632.

Plaintiff who spoke at zoning hearing and was professor at University of Virginia was not public figure as defined in 418 U.S. 323. Actions for libel are treated as actions for slander.

1946 Cook v. Patterson Drug Co., 185 Va. 516, 39 S.E.2d 304.

In defamation action where words uttered have clear and definite meaning, it is immaterial what meaning speaker intended to convey. Whether speaker believed statement to be true is immaterial as to establishing cause of action where words have clear and definite meaning. Intent becomes material only when words do not have clear and definite meaning.

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Defamation Miscellaneous: Cases Summarized

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