Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Judge Tosses Failed U.S. Senate Candidate's Libel Suit

Flag of Miami-Dade County, Florida
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In Jeffrey Greene v. Times Publishing Co. et al. (Case No. 10-47749-CA 32), Judge Valeria Manno-Schurr of the 11th Judicial Circuit Court of Miami-Dade County  dismissed defamation claims against The Miami Herald and The St. Petersburg Times brought by billionaire real estate mogul Jeffrey Greene, who blamed his Democratic U.S. Senate primary loss to Kendrick Meek on the dailies' coverage of him (see "TUOL" post 9/7/10).

Greene is expected to appeal the decision concerning three articles and what he alleged in his voluminous complaint were 22 purportedly libelous statements that harmed his business and campaign effort. Judge Manno-Schurr ruled a Times editorial was entirely opinion and not susceptible to a defamatory meaning. Likewise, she held that an article detailing alleged drug use and bad boy behavior on Greene's yacht by former heavyweight champ Mike Tyson and cohorts, who was best man at Greene's wedding, could not defame the plaintiff because it neither suggested he participated in nor even witnessed  the allegedly nefarious goings-on.

A third article involving a condo deal in which Greene participated with a California businessman who subsequently was indicted for mortgage fraud unrelated to his association with Greene was not defamatory either, according to the court, because the plaintiff failed to show any misstatements by the media defendants rose to the level of actual malice. (Tip of the hat to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press,, for following up on this case.)

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