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Libel and damages California

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  • Libel and damages California

    Hey everyone! Thanks for taking the time to read and consider my question.

    I was recently married. During our wedding, we ended up needing our photographer to stay about an hour longer than we had agreed to. We approached her at the time and she said that she would not charge for any extra time. We later confirmed that we would not be charged for any extra time via email, which I saved a copy of. After the wedding there was a minor discrepancy between what she had agreed to deliver in our contract and what she actually delivered. My insistence that she provide me with what we had agreed to infuriated her, and she became quite nasty in our correspondence. Finally, we received the images that we had asked for in an extremely low-res format with the tops of the heads of the bride and groom cropped out in several of the photos. Upset by her reaction to us, we left several negative reviews online and in the local paper. In our reviews we were very careful to stick strictly to the facts of what happened, leaving our own feelings out of it. Shortly after we wrote the reviews, we began getting calls from a collection company looking to collect more than $200 from us for the extra hour of photography. We repeatedly contacted the photographer letting her know that the charges were false, even forwarding her copies of the email exchange showing as much. She ignored our attempts to contact her, and her actions have now negatively affected my credit.

    There is only one loan that my lower credit score might have affected, my car loan. However, I am wondering if it is reasonable to sue her for libel and hope for some punitive damages since I can show that she knew the information she was reporting was false, and she reported it purely to damage my reputation (as shown by my lower credit score)?

    On a side note: It has been less than a year since we were first reported to a collection agency by the photographer, so I am fairly certain we are still within our state's (CA) statute of limitations.

    I appreciate any light you guys can shed on this.