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3.11-4  Libel Per Se

Revised to January 1, 2008

Certain written defamatory statements are considered to be so harmful in and of themselves that the person to whom they relate is entitled to recover general damages for injury to reputation, without proving that any special or actual damages were caused by the statements.  These defamatory statements are called libel per se.  Libel per se is a type of libel in which the defamatory meaning is apparent on the face of the statement.

When the defamatory words are libel per se, the law conclusively presumes that there is injury to the plaintiff's reputation.  The plaintiff is not required to prove that (his/her) reputation was damaged.  The plaintiff is entitled to recover, as general damages, for the injury to (his/her) reputation and for the humiliation and mental suffering caused by the libel.

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

If you find that the plaintiff has proven each of the elements of libel, as I have previously instructed you, then this would be libel per se because <insert as appropriate:>

  • It charges one with a crime.

  • It charges one with improper conduct or lack of skill in (his/her) profession and is likely to injure (him/her) in (his/her) profession or calling.


Gagnon v. Housatonic Valley Tourism Commission, 92 Conn. App. 835, 847-48 (2006); Gambardella v. Apple Health Care, Inc., 86 Conn. App. 842, 850-51 (2005); Lowe v. Shelton, 83 Conn. App. 750, 766-67, cert. denied, 271 Conn. 915 (2004); Lega Siciliana Social Club, Inc. v. St. Germaine, 77 Conn. App. 846, 852-53, cert. denied, 267 Conn. 901 (2003); Peters v. Carra, 10 Conn. App. 410, 414 (1987).


This charge should be preceded by Defamation, Instruction 3.11-1, and Libel, Instruction 3.11-2, and be followed by Damages for Libel/Slander Per Se, Instruction 3.11-8.

Whether a publication is libelous per se is a question for the court.  Gagnon v. Housatonic Valley Tourism Commission, 92 Conn. App. 835, 848 (2006).  If the court finds that the statement made was libel per se, the court should so instruct the jury.

Whether a published article is libelous per se is determined on the face of the article itself.  The statements contained therein, when viewed in the sense in which common and reasonable minds would understand them, are determinative.  They may not be varied or enlarged by innuendo.


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