Stigma-Plus Doctrine Law and Legal Definition

Stigma plus doctrine is a principle that enables a plaintiff, in limited circumstances, to seek relief for government defamation under federal constitutional law. According to this principle, defamation by a government official is actionable as a civil-rights violation only if the victim suffers some loss of property interest like continued employment in a government job.

To prevail on this doctrine, plaintiffs must plead (1) the utterance of a statement sufficiently derogatory to injure his or her reputation, that is capable of being proved false, and that he or she claims is false, and (2) a material state-imposed burden or state-imposed alteration of the plaintiffs status or rights.[Spinale v. USDA, 621 F. Supp. 2d 112 (S.D.N.Y. 2009)].