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Billionaire real estate mogul Jeffrey Greene, who was bested in Florida's Democratic U.S. Senate primary race by Kendrick Meek, has filed a 55-page defamation lawsuit in Miami Dade Circuit Court against The St. Petersburg Times and The Miami Herald.
Greene alleges the defendants conspired to assassinate his character and diminish his chances of winning the primary by publishing stories that cast him in a negative light. An article that appeared in the Herald concerning a Calif. businessperson subsequently indicted for mortgage fraud who was involved in an unrelated condo deal with Greene and a second article concerning alleged drug use and lurid partying by former boxing champ Mike Tyson aboard Greene's yacht underlie the defamation claim.
According to the plaintiff, both stories were false and he purportedly provided evidence to that effect to the Florida dailies pre-publication. Both papers did print a correction concerning the Tyson story.
To prevail on his claim, Greene must prove the defendants published the stories with actual malice, that is, knowing the stories were untrue or with reckless disregard about the truth or falsity of the articles. Greene is seeking $250 million in compensatory damages (or about 10 times what he spent out of his own pocket to fund his campaign) and $250 million in punitive damages.
Time will tell, but political candidates successfully suing media outlets covering their campaigns for defamation is as rare an occurrence nowadays as apparently, losing gracefully.