Q: A professor recently committed suicide at my school. Rumors abound that he had been caught up in a financial scandal, but he’s obviously no longer around to interview. Is it possible to libel a dead person?
A: No. While a person’s estate can continue to pursue a libel claim filed by a person before his death, in America only a living person can initiate a defamation claim for damages to their reputation. If there is indeed alleged financial impropriety related to the professor’s job, there are ways to track down that information.
Every week, Student Press Law Center attorneys answer a frequently asked question about student media law in “Ask SPLC.”
See previous Ask SPLC questions
Have a question you’d like answered? Tell us in the form below. (Not all questions will be chosen for Ask SPLC.)
If you need immediate help, contact our Legal Hotline.