False Publication Law In North Dakota

Under N.D.C.C. 14-02-03 libel "is a false and unprivileged publication by writing . . . which exposes any person to hatred, contempt, ridicule, or obloquy, or which causes the person to be shunned or avoided, or which has a tendency to injure the person in the person's occupation." Every person has the right of protection from defamation. Jose v. Norwest Bank, 1999 ND 175, P23, 599 N.W.2d 293. There is no liability, however, for defamatory statements that are privileged. Id. at P25. Under N.D.C.C. 14-02-05(1), a privileged communication is one made "in the proper discharge of an official duty." The privilege under this subsection is an absolute privilege for defamatory statements, even if made with malice. Rykowsky v. Dickinson Pub. Sch. Dist. No. 1, 508 N.W.2d 348, 351 (N.D. 1993).