DEAR HARRIETTE: A woman who used to be a close friend just informed me that she is writing a tell-all memoir about her life, and she plans to include me in it. There is no scandalous story about the two of us that I know of, but she and I were close for a long time, and she knows a lot of my backstory. Like most people, there are plenty of things that I would rather not see the light of day, certainly not in somebody’s book.
I want to put a stop to this before she gets going. This woman can be evil, and she has turned on most of her friends over the years. As soon as she does that, she talks about them like they were dogs, even if seemingly moments before they were tight. I have heard from two other former friends that she has threatened to expose their secrets as well. In some instances, what she is threatening is false, but often some part of it is true. Is there anything we can do to stop her? -- Exposed
DEAR EXPOSED: According to Cornell University, “Libel is a method of defamation expressed by print, writing, pictures, signs, effigies, or any communication embodied in physical form that is injurious to a person's reputation, exposes a person to public hatred, contempt or ridicule, or injures a person in his/her business or profession." From this perspective, you would think you have the right to sue this woman for potentially damaging your reputation, if she proceeds to publish negative things about you. The caveat is that to file suit against someone for libel, you do need to be able to prove that what the person is saying or publishing is false. If the statements that this woman makes about you or others are accurate, you do not have a case -- even if what she is saying is horrible.
Still, you may want to team up with the other people and talk to an attorney. Perhaps someone representing the lot of you can go to this woman and appeal to her, making it clear that you will sue if she proceeds. You can sue whether you will likely win or lose.