Google Answers Logo
View Question
Q: Defamation of Character ( Answered,   1 Comment )
Subject: Defamation of Character
Category: Relationships and Society > Relationships
Asked by: guardianangel317-ga
List Price: $2.00
Posted: 16 Sep 2003 07:51 PDT
Expires: 16 Oct 2003 07:51 PDT
Question ID: 257285
My former spouse and I were reunited and living together in my
apartment.  He maintained his separate residence during this time
frame.  He was one of the NYC Firemen killed on 9/11.  He was in a
previous relationship with a woman who no longer resided in his (our
former) condo.  Her name was not on the deed nor was her name on any
utility bills.  She put her name on his death certificate as  his
"Fiance".  When I saw this I hit the roof!  She had him arrested on 2
different occasions and she was known to all his 
friends/co-workers as a wacko.  They had a child together and
unfortunately, he died in testate.  He did leave me as his beneficiary
on three different life insurance policies.  I reported him missing
the following day and I also brought his dental x-rays to detectives
as well as the last item of clothing he wore along with his
toothbrush, razors and his deodorant. How do I proceed with a lawsuit
against this woman as well as having her name removed from his death
Subject: Re: Defamation of Character
Answered By: ephraim-ga on 16 Sep 2003 10:57 PDT
Guardian Angel,

I'm sorry to hear about the problems you are having. I hope the
following information will point you in the right direction.

The web site of the New York City Department of Health and Mental
Hygiene is at [ ].

Their Office of Vital Records provides an online form where one can
submit corrections to death certificates: [ ].

You can also call the department directly at (212) 219-5400 .

I highly recommend that you collect your own documents (marriage
license, proof of name change, etc.) before contacting them, in case
they ask for it. In addition, you probably want to "stick to the
facts" when talking to them. You are the spouse. She is not. Whether
or not "she was known to all his friends/co-workers as a wacko" is
irrelevant to these people. All that matters is that she deliberately
lied on the form, and you want it corrected.

As regards filing a lawsuit for defamation of character, I recommend
that you speak with a qualified lawyer. I am not permitted to give you
legal advice, as per Google Answers' policy. In the United States,
anybody can sue anyone for anything. Whether you will win or lose is
an altogether different matter which only a competent attorney may
advise you of. You proceed with a lawsuit by contacting an attorney
and asking them what you can do.

Wikipedia has an article about defamation of character, slander, and
libel at [ ]. A relevant quotation
from this is:

"Libel and slander are two forms of defamation (or defamation of
character), which is the tort of making a false statement that would
tend to unjustly lower its hearers' or readers' opinion(s) of the
person(s) the communication was about. When the communication is in
writing, it is properly termed 'libel'. If made via the spoken word,
the correct term is 'slander'."

The point here, is that libel is a subcategory of "tort." What's a
tort? From [ ]:

"Under United States law, torts are generally divided into two
categories: intentional torts and non-intentional torts. Intentional
torts include those actions that are intentional and voluntary and
that are made with knowledge by the tortfeasor (i.e. the person who
committed the tort) upon the plaintiff (the one who brings the
complaint seeking relief). Intentional torts include: battery, assault
(apprehension of harmful or offensive contact), false imprisonment,
intentional infliction of emotional distress, the real property tort
of trespass to land, and the personal property torts of conversion and
trespass to chattels.

Amongst unintentional torts one finds negligence as being the most
common source of ligitation in most American courts. It is a form of
extracontractual liability that is based upon a duty of care of a
reasonable person, who, being the proximate cause of damages, and but
for the tortfeasor's act, is the cause of damages to the plaintiff.
Other non-intentional torts include negligent infliction of emotional

Based on all this, I'm going to take an educated guess that your
lawsuit against her could be filed in civil court, but if she's lied
on a government document, she may be liable under criminal law as

New York's court system provides documents which allow you to file
court cases on their web site [ ]. Over here, you
should find the right forms to get you started.

If you've understood all of the definitions above and know exactly
which category your lawsuit will fall into, then you'd probably make a
good lawyer. Otherwise, please take my advice and speak to somebody
who is trained and licensed to deal with these issues.

I hope this has helped,


Search Strategy:

[ ://
Google Search: "new york" "death certificate" law OR laws

Clarification of Answer by ephraim-ga on 16 Sep 2003 20:05 PDT
Expertlaw, one of my fellow researchers, gave me a pointer to a web
site which may be of interest to you:

Good luck!

Subject: Re: Defamation of Character
From: pinkfreud-ga on 16 Sep 2003 12:01 PDT
Whose character has been allegedly defamed here? Falsely claiming to
have been engaged to someone doesn't seem to me to fall into the
category of defamation of character.

Important Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided on Google Answers are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice. Google does not endorse, and expressly disclaims liability for any product, manufacturer, distributor, service or service provider mentioned or any opinion expressed in answers or comments. Please read carefully the Google Answers Terms of Service.

If you feel that you have found inappropriate content, please let us know by emailing us at with the question ID listed above. Thank you.
Search Google Answers for
Google Answers  

Google Home - Answers FAQ - Terms of Service - Privacy Policy