defamation per se Tag

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Absolute Immunity Protects Public Officials from Defamation

Thinking about suing a public official for defamation?  Think twice (or three or four times) before doing so.  Public officials acting within the scope of their duties enjoy absolute immunity from statements they make.  Stated differently, they are absolutely immune from a defamation lawsuit.    In Quintero v. Diaz, 45 Fla. L. Weekly D51b (Fla. 3d DCA 2020), a former Director of Parks and Recreation for a city sued the Mayor of that City for defamation per se based on public defamatory statements contained in a termination letter.  The parties stipulated that the Mayor was acting within the scope of his...

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Defamation Per Se Opens Door for Punitive Damages

A defamation per se action opens the door for punitive damages even if actual damages cannot be shown or proven.  Lawnwood Medical Center, Inc. v. Sadow, 43 So.3d 710, 729 (Fla. 4th DCA 2010).   This is because malice is presumed and, thus, the statements are presumed harmful as a matter of law.  Id.  However, “proof of liability for defamation per se requires a showing that the declarant knew or should have known the defamatory statement was not true.”  Tilton v. Wrobel, 198 So.3d 909 (Fla. 4th DCA 2016).  Hence, while a claimant may not be able to prove actual damages...

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