The elements of a defamation claim are: (1) the assertion of a false and defamatory statement concerning another; (2) the unprivileged publication of that statement to a third party; and (3) fault amounting at least to negligence by the publisher.  According to the Court, “a defamatory statement, generally, is one that subjects an individual to contempt or ridicule, one that harms a person’s reputation by lowering the community’s estimation of him or by deterring others from wanting to associate or deal with him.”

Accusing a financial executive of thievery met the test:  “The statements imputed serious ethical, if not criminal, breaches.”  The Court found that Backtrack had an affirmative duty to confirm the accuracy of the statements before circulating them.