According to Florida case law as of the date of this article, malice, when talking about public figures, is having the knowledge that a statement is false at the time it is made or making a statement with a reckless disregard of the truth:
“To determine whether the councilman’s lawsuit had merit, the trial court first had to determine whether the councilman was a public figure because a different standard applies to public figures. If the plaintiff is a public figure, he must show that the defendant made the statements with actual malice, which has been defined as knowing the statements were false at the time they were made or making the statements with a reckless disregard *328 of the truth. Mile Marker, Inc. v. Petersen Publ’g, L.L.C., 811 So. 2d 841, 845 (Fla. 4th DCA 2002). If the plaintiff is not a public figure, he must show the defendant made the statements negligently”.
“During oral argument, the councilman conceded he was a public figure. As a result, the actual malice standard applies. In addition to the presence of actual malice, the trial court had to review the summary judgment evidence to determine if the following additional elements were present: (1) publication of the statement; (2) falsity of the statement; (3) actual damages; and (4) the statement was defamatory. Jews For Jesus, Inc. v. Rapp, 997 So. 2d 1098, 1105-06 (Fla. 2008). After hearing argument of counsel and reviewing the evidence filed in support of and opposing the resident’s motion for summary judgment, the trial court determined that there was no evidence that the resident knew her statements were false or that the statements were made with a reckless disregard for the truth”
“After reviewing the entire record on appeal, we find the trial court correctly determined there was no evidence of actual malice. “
See: Mastandrea v. Snow – 333 So.3d 326 (2022)
Related (From Alan’s blog and this website):
- Defamation Per Se
- Defamation Cases Where Plaintiffs Were Victorious
- Defamation of Character Claims
- Defamation Lawyer
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