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Troubleshooters: Libel and slander

READ MORE: Troubleshooters: Libel and slander
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In this Troubleshooters report, we are taking a look at a relatively new website created by a man active in the local film industry. He claims he is on a mission to expose people who are lying on their resumes. His efforts have landed him in some hot water, and possibly getting him sued. Joe Stauffer started a website called SwackMe.com. The website is aimed at exposing people Stauffer believes are lying on their resumes and tarnishing the Wilmington film community. In one video, Stauffer records a phone conversation between himself and a man who has applied for a job with him through Craigslist. That man, Joe Montanti, had no idea he was being recorded. Since Joe Montanti did not even know he was being recorded, you can imagine how surprised he was to find this embarrassing encounter broadcast on the internet. Montanti claims the video has damaged his reputation in the film industry, and is hindering his ability to get work. "You give people a heads up, you just don't ambush somebody. Yeah, I fibbed or I stretched the truth on my resume - a lot of people do in the regular world. It bit me, but he had no right,” Montanti said. While FCC regulations prevent news reporters and radio DJ's from broadcasting recorded telephone conversations without people's knowledge, those rules do not apply to the general public - even if they are putting the recordings online. Attorney Thom Goolsby said, "He can say whatever he wants as long as it's true. Now will get sued? He might. Will he win? If he's telling the truth, he should.” It is considered slander if a person says something untrue; libel is when they put it in writing. In order for someone to legitimately claim slander or libel, the information that is being said or written about them must be false. "If you are a liar and a cheat, and someone accuses you of doing that, and you are a liar and a cheat, too bad,” Goolsby said. In the case of Joe Montanti, he admits to flubbing his resume, but there is at least one other person who is discussed on Stauffer's website, David Schifter, who said what is being said about him is a flat out lie. Schifter has hired an attorney out of Raleigh, who has filed a lawsuit against Joe Stauffer. We spoke to Stauffer over the phone Tuesday. Stauffer said Joe Montanti's claim on his resume was so obnoxious it inspired him to start the website, but he had no idea it would generate this much attention, much less a lawsuit. Stauffer stands by what he said on his website, and said he has no intention of hiring a lawyer to defend himself.

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