The Philadelphia Personal Injury Law Blog

Rush Limbaugh Defamation Lawsuit for Calling Sandra Fluke a Slut?

Rush Limbaugh is no stranger to controversy. For local residents, we best remember Limbaugh for saying that former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb received so many accolades partly because he was black -- leading to his ouster from ESPN.

Now Limbaugh has stuck his foot in his mouth again as he called Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke a “slut” and “prostitute” for backing a plan that would require employers and insurers to provide free contraceptives, reports the Philadelphia Daily News.

Could this could lead to a Rush Limbaugh defamation lawsuit?

A number of people, including House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, are urging Fluke, to sue Limbaugh, reports the Daily News. Because Luke is not a public figure like Limbaugh or the politicians he typically attacks, Luke has much greater protections from defamatory statements.

Generally, public figures on the receiving end of untrue and defamatory statements have a hard time suing. Because they are in the public spotlight, courts do not treat them like members of the ordinary public and require that the speaker have an intention to harm. This is a difficult standard to meet.

However, for "civilian" law students and every other ordinary member of the public, they simply have to show that an untrue statement was made on-air that damaged their reputation or otherwise caused injury to prevail.

Strangely, the best defense in the Rush Limbaugh defamation lawsuit may be the outrageousness of the statements themselves. Limbaugh could claim that what he was saying was so outlandish that nobody could reasonably believe that what he was saying was true.

Given Limbaugh's history of stupid statements, this could actually be a pretty good defense.

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