Defamation is an intentionally false statement, either spoken or written by a person, concerning another person. The false statement negatively impacts the person's life because it damages their reputation or results in loss of respect once held by that person.
There are two types of defamation: Slander and Libel.
Slander is a defamatory statement spoken by one person to another about a third person, which results in harm to the third person's reputation. The person claiming slander must prove that it caused them damaged.
Libel is a written defamatory statement that results in harm to another person's reputation. Identifying libel requires that the defamatory written statement is in a place where third parties can read it. The person claiming libel will have to prove that the libelous statement damaged them.
When filing a defamation lawsuit in Florida, plaintiffs will be required to establish and prove the following specific elements to recover damages:
- The defendant acted with knowledge or reckless disregard as to the falsity on a matter concerning a public official or acted negligently on a matter concerning a private citizen
- Actual damages
- The statement was, in fact, defamatory
After being served with a defamation lawsuit, the defendant should not only timely answer the complaint but prepare some defenses to the claims.
Some of the defenses for defamation are:
- Fair reporting privilege regarding legislative and judicial reports
If the plaintiff succeeds at trial, under Florida law, the plaintiff may claim actual damages, compensatory damages, and punitive damages.
If you believe that you have been defamed or need to defend a defamation lawsuit, please contact Kimberly M. Soto at 321.972.2279 so she can further advise you.