False Light

The tort of false light is similar to but distinct from a claims for libel, defamation and slander. False light is part of a group of torts called the "privacy torts" (other privacy torts include intrusion of private information which involves gathering private information without permission, misappropriation of private information and unlawful publication of private facts.) The nature of false light claims differs in the various; however the tort usually protects against publication and distribution of offensive and false facts.

Illinois is among the states that recognize a claim for false light.

One who gives publicity to a matter concerning another that places the other before the public in a false light is subject to liability to the other for invasion of his privacy, if

(a) the false light in which the plaintiff was placed is highly offensive to a reasonable person, and

(b) the defendant knew or acted with reckless disregard in making the false light publication.

The Difference Between False Light and Defamation Causes of Action

False light and defamation are similar with some differences. Alleged false-light invasion of privacy, although closely related to defamation, protects one's interest in being let alone from offensive publicity. It has been suggested that all defamation actions can be analyzed as false-light claims, but not all false-light claims support defamation actions. It is not necessary that a plaintiff be defamed to support a false-light invasion of privacy claim. Due to the similarities between these torts, certain restrictions and limitations on actions for defamation may be equally pertinent to claims for false-light invasion of privacy.

Avoiding False Light Lawsuits

Carefully check your facts and have documents to back them up.

Don’t publish a photograph of a crime scene that accidentally makes a by passer look guilty of the crime or as if they are a participant.

Don’t put images on your website that look like they are part of a negative story on an unrelated subject making it seem as if an unrelated person is part of that story.

Lubin Austermuehle, P.C.’s Chicago false light attorneys have offices in Elmhurst, Wilmette and Chicago, Illinois. We represent clients throughout Illinois, including Chicago and surrounding areas, DuPage County, as well as Indiana and Wisconsin. To schedule a consultation with one of our Chicago Defamation Libel or Slander Attorneys contact us online or by telephone at 630-333-0333.

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