In this case, the plaintiff claims that the defendant harmed the plaintiff's reputation by making a false statement about the plaintiff. To establish this claim, the plaintiff must prove five elements. The plaintiff must prove that each of the following four elements is more likely true than not true:
(1) the defendant made the following statement: [insert statement determined by the court to be defamatory per se];
(2) the defendant communicated the statement to a person other than the plaintiff;
(3) the statement was reasonably understood by this person to be about the plaintiff; and
(4) the statement was false.
The fifth element of this claim requires the plaintiff to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant either knew that the statement was false or had serious doubts about the truth of the statement.
An alleged fact is established by clear and convincing evidence if the evidence leads you to believe that the alleged fact is highly probable. It is not necessary that the alleged fact be certainly true, or true beyond a reasonable doubt, or conclusively true. However, it is not enough to show that the alleged fact is more likely true than not true.
If the plaintiff fails to prove any one of these elements, you must find for the defendant on this claim.
If the plaintiff proves all five elements, [you must find for the plaintiff on this claim] [you must then decide whether the law allows the defendant to make the statement].
This instruction should only be used when the court determines 1) that a statement allegedly made by the defendant falls within a category recognized as defamatory per se; and 2) that the plaintiff is a public figure or the statement related to a matter of public concern.
If the defendant claims that the statement was privileged, the second bracketed phrase in