In today’s wave of ethical consumerism, reputation means everything. Businesses work hard at maintaining their client and customer relationship to continue receiving their business. However, nothing can be worse than one falsely published report made against the company’s brand that can alienate its customers or users and destroy the company’s business forever. Those with bad faith intentions against companies or brands for the sake of making them look bad need to be held accountable. If you are a business or brand owner who is dealing with defamation, you need to seek legal counsel as soon as possible to understand your legal rights.
Miami-Dade County Lawyer for Defamation
If you were the subject of a defamatory statement that has impacted your brand or business severely, you need to obtain legal counsel right away. Under Florida law, defamation is considered both a civil and criminal offense.
At Abrams Justice Trial Attorneys, our attorneys are experienced in civil litigation suits involving complex business and contract law. Whether the individual made a false statement against you, your company, or brand, we can hold them to account in a court of law. Bring your case to Abrams Justice Trial Attorneys and we can explore your legal options available, as well as potential remedies.
We work with clients in the Miami-Dade County area. Schedule a consultation with our attorneys at Abrams Justice Trial Attorneys at (305) 709-0880 or fill out an initial contact form at the bottom of the page.
Overview of Defamation
- What Counts as Defamation?
- How are Defamatory Statements Interpreted?
- Florida Laws Against Defamation
- How Do You Prove a Defamation Claim?
- Additional Resources
What Counts as Defamation?
Defamation is defined as a set of false statements made against a persona or reputation.
Defamation is divided into two categories known as slander, or libel. Slander is spoken or oral defamation, whereas libel is defamation found in print, images, or other media. Statements made on television or radio, for example, are considered libel, and at times can be persecuted worse because of their lasting effect.
Slander Ex.: During a Q and A session at a non-televised convention for self-made entrepreneurs, the mic is passed around to an individual who asks a question about your business while implying your company was passed down to you from your family.
Libel Ex.: On the open comments on your hotel’s website, a businessman, who recently stayed at your hotel, is now opening his own hotel. To draw guests away from your hotel and into his, comments that during his stay at your hotel, his room was filled with roaches.
Interpretation of Defamatory Statements
One of the key points of proving defamation is having proof of the quantifiable damage that the statement had on your persona, reputation, or brand.
Tort of Defamation Per Se–
Defamation Per Se establishes that a defamatory statement does not need to be proven, if the statement is already damaging enough. There are four clear demonstrations of a false statement that assumes damages. Those involve a false statement involving:
• criminal activity;
• infectious/contagious disease;
• sexual misconduct; or
• inappropriate conduct inconsistent with the brand of the business, trade, or profession.
For example, publishing an article that accused a hospital of selling prescriptions to patients without a consultation or connection to any medical treatment. That is both deemed as a criminal activity and inconsistent with the hospital’s ethics, so it is not necessary to prove the hospital suffered any damages as a result of the defamatory statement.
Tort of Defamation Per Quod-
Defamation per quod requires the plaintiff in the defamation claim to prove that there were damages resulting out of the defamatory statement. For example, a business presents an amount of decline in their business sales that occurred directly after a person made false statements about their business. The business would have to prove the defamatory statement was the direct cause of the decline in sales. If a comment was made regarding a specific product in the line of business, then sales for that product would have to have been impacted measurably for them to be a direct cause of one another.
Tort of Defamation Per Implication-
Defamation per implication is based on the idea that, though the statement that was said appeared to be true, it was stated in a way that constitutes a defamatory implication. An example is publishing a story in which the headline reads about the university’s president who misallocated funds throughout the school year and goes on to imply the president may have used that money to purchase the luxurious car she drives around campus. Though, the statement reads as partly true, there is a clear implication of questioning the president’s integrity.
Florida Laws Against Defamation
As opposed to most states, Florida still recognizes defamation as both a criminal and civil offense. The statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit for defamation is approximately two years (Fla. Stat. §95.114).
In the last couple of decades, the surge of the internet has forced courts to question the jurisdiction of defendants in defamation cases who are physically residing outside of the state of Florida and were not physically present in Florida when said defamatory act was committed. However, Florida’s Long Arm Statute (Fla. Sta. §48.193) has helped in closing the gap, stating “a person, whether or not a citizen or resident of this state” can still be held liable for committing “a tortious act within this state”. Whether or not the defamatory statement has jurisdiction in the Florida state really depends on the impact it had within the state, and whether the defamatory statement was directly geared at individuals in this state. Such case has been seen in the 2002 Florida civil case of Wendt v. Horowitz, 822 So. 2d 1252 in which the motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction was dismissed.
Proving a Defamation Claim
Proving a defamation claim is not as easy as just calling someone out because they’ve made false statements about you, your brand, or company. The following elements must be proven in order to be regarded as a defamation claim:
Statement of Fact – The statement made must be first established as a false statement and must have been presented as a fact and not an opinion-based statement.
Identification-To sue for defamation, the plaintiff in the lawsuit must be clearly posed as the subject of the defamatory statement. The subject can be either one individual, a company, brand, or entity.
A Published Statement – The statement must have been made accessible to the general public or a third party and not just the plaintiff in the case. The statement must have been made communicated or published.
The Statement Cause Injury – It must be established that the defamatory statement has caused damages, including injury (hurting the subject’s reputation) or pain and suffering.
Fault of Statement- The statement must be cited at least with negligence, or malice.
Florida Statutes | Laws Involving Defamation – The Florida legislature provides an in-depth understanding of the laws that govern defamation in the state of Florida. Click on the page to view specific state laws.
Freedom Forum Institute | Public Figures – The Freedom Forum Institute provides information about defamation involving public figures. Defamation cases for public figures are handled at a case by case basis, since it is usually harder to prove than regular individuals.
Attorney for Defamation in Miami, FL
Defamation can ruin all the hard work and dedication you have put into your company and brand. Do not let one person’s reckless intentions deter you from reaching success. Our litigators at Abrams Justice Trial Attorneys are experienced complex business attorneys that understand how to hold slander and libel defendants accountable.
Florida state law forbids defamation. Outside of criminal litigation, we can help you recover monetary damages done to your business and future career. Let us do the work for you when representing you in court.
Our attorneys work with clients in the cities of Miami, Miami Beach, Homestead, Hialeah, Coral Gables, Doral, Pinecrest, Palmetto Bay and more. Call to schedule a consultation at (305) 709-0880 with one of our attorneys for defamation or fill out a free case review form at the bottom of the page.