Okay, I just read that Monique, Tucker's African American girlfriend discussed in the notorious, recorded cellphone call between Tucker and Dog Chapman, has announced she's suing Dog for slander. And, I've also already read a couple of blog posts pontificating on this suit and muddying the legal waters.
Here's my LawyerLook:
1. It's not about the phone call.
She is NOT allegingly suing based upon the phone call. She's purportedly suing for statements Dog has made on television about her.
Under Hawaii law, one person CAN record a cellphone conversation and the person on the other end doesn't have to know it's being recorded. That's legal in Hawaii, although that's not the case in other states. In Hawaii, it only becomes illegal if the recording is made for a criminal or tortious reason.
If Monique was involved in Tucker's decision to record the phone call, she can't sue on a tort (slander is a tort) without violating Hawaiian law. So, if she's wanting to sue, she has to find other statements to form the basis of her lawsuit.
Plus, Dog's statements in the phone call were private: he didn't know he was being recorded. Defamation by definition involves a PUBLIC communication.
2. You can read Dog's Public Statements on LKL and Hannity & Colmes
I didn't see Dog on Hannity, but I did watch the full hour of Larry King Live. I didn't hear anything that sounded slanderous - and yes, I believe that Dog was prepared beforehand to be careful here. A good attorney would have been careful to instruct him on the boundaries of legal defamation. Even if Dog doesn't have a lawyer to do that, you can bet Larry King does.
The LNL transcript is online. So is Hannity & Colmes' transcript. Go read for yourself, see what you find.
One thing I clearly remember. Dog said that Tucker should marry Monique, especially after all that has happened.
3. It's not slander, it's libel, and Dog would not be the only Defendant.
Now, here's the bottom line: Slander is defaming someone verbally. Libel is doing so in writing. However, when a statement is spread over the TV airwaves, it counts as libel because it's essentially "published" like it had appeared in a newspaper or magazine.
The report that the suit is for "slander" isn't legally accurate. Another error.
Now, back to a libel action. There has to be a specific statement which has to be false, and Dog has to have known it was false when he said it. What statement is being referenced here? What TV statements are we talking about here?
Another element of the cause of action: the statement has to harm the person's reputation or standing in the community. Where's Monique been harmed? What was her reputation and standing in the community before this brouhaha? How has it changed?
And, finally, the speaker has to have acted with malice -- Dog would have to be shown to have spoken the statement on TV with malicious intent and a disregard for the harm it might cause.
Once again, Dog on Larry King was apologizing to everyone, everywhere. To Larry, to callers, to the public at large. He stated that Tucker should marry Monique. Not a malicious frame of mind.
I'm not seeing a successful defamation suit here. Both Dog and the entities responsible for the TV show would be defendants, of course. Now, you know CNN has some legal big dogs at the ready.
I am also sure that there is a lawyer out there, all ready to take the case. Shocked? I doubt you are.