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3.11-5  Slander Per Se

Revised to January 1, 2008

The plaintiff in this case is seeking to recover damages for slander.  Slander is oral defamation of character. Slander is the speaking of defamatory words which injure the reputation of the person defamed or which deter people from associating with or dealing with the person defamed.

In most cases, a plaintiff must prove actual injury to (his/her) reputation in order to recover in an action for slander.  Actual injury must be proven unless the slander occurred in one of the categories called slander per se.  If a statement is slanderous per se, a person is entitled to recover for general damages to (his/her) reputation without having to prove that actual damage was caused by the statements.  This is because the law conclusively presumes that these statements cause injury to a person's reputation. 

In this case, the plaintiff claims that <insert allegations>.

If you find that the plaintiff has proven, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the defendant made the statement to a third person, which identified the plaintiff, such that it would be reasonably understood that it was about the plaintiff, then this would be slander per se because <insert as appropriate:>

  • The statement falsely charges someone with having committed a crime that involves moral turpitude or for which an infamous penalty is attached.

  • The statement falsely charges someone with having a loathsome or contagious disease.

  • The statement falsely charges a woman with being unchaste.

  • The statement falsely charges someone with incompetence or dishonesty in office.

  • The statement falsely charges a professional person with general incompetence.

  • The statement falsely charges a person with conduct or characteristics that would adversely affect (him/her) in (his/her) trade or business.


Moriarty v. Lippe, 162 Conn. 371 (1972); Proto v. Bridgeport Herald Corp., 136 Conn. 557 (1950); DeVito v. Schwartz, 66 Conn. App. 228, 235-37 (2001); Zeller v. Mack, 14 Conn. App. 651 (1988).


This charge should be preceded by Defamation, Instruction 3.11-1, and be followed by Damages for Libel/Slander Per Se, Instruction 3.11-8.

The court should consider the continued viability of example three in light of Connecticut law on sexual discrimination and example four in light of freedom of speech concerns.

In an action for slander per se, a plaintiff can recover general, special and punitive damages, if appropriate.

Spoken words are not slanderous per se if they charge no more than specific acts, unless those acts are so charged as to amount to an allegation of general incompetence or lack of integrity.


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