Pre-Suit Notice Condition Precedent Requirement before Suing News Media for Defamation Not Extended to Books and Movies
Florida Statute s. 770.01 contains a pre-suit notice condition precedent requirement before a person can sue the news media for defamation. It provides:
Before any civil action is brought for publication or broadcast, in a newspaper, periodical, or other medium, of a libel or slander, the plaintiff shall, at least 5 days before instituting such action, serve notice in writing on the defendant, specifying the article or broadcast and the statements therein which he or she alleges to be false and defamatory.
In a recent opinion, Mazur v. Baraya, 44 Fla. L. Weekly D1795b (Fla. 2d DCA 2019), the issue was whether this pre-suit notice condition precedent requirement extended to alleged defamation in books and movies. The plaintiff in this case sued book publishers and move production companies over his false portrayal in books and movies. The Second District Court of Appeal, affirming the trial court, held that it did not apply to books and movies. “Florida courts have consistently interpreted section 770.01 to apply only to news media, i.e., the press.” Mazur, supra (explaining pre-suit notice requirement is meant to apply to the free press that publishes news quickly since they can issue retractions quickly as provided for in Florida Statute s. 770.02 to mitigate damages). Although the statute includes the language “or other medium” (underlined above), it still applies to the news media with this language designed to “cover new technologies used to disseminate the news, such as internet publishers and blogs.”). Id. “Although books and movies may address topics of public interest, they are not part of the traditional news media press….” Id.
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