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Calling Someone a “Florida Lawyer” is Not Defamatory.

May 22, 2013

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In <a href=";system=prod"><i>Sabharwal &amp; Finkel v. Sorrell</i></a>, the defendant was interviewed about an ongoing lawsuit.  He made several remarks about the plaintiff’s lawyers in that case.  Some of the statements were, “the two-lawyer firm is based in Florida,” they “specialize in restaurant law,” and they are “lawyers working on a contingency basis.”  In its analysis of the statements, the court noted that there are many respected law firms that are based in Florida, that specialize in restaurant law, and that work on a contingency basis.  As such, even if those statements were false, they were not defamatory.  We’re sure our colleagues in Florida were glad to hear that…
When it comes to defamation, statements that may rub someone the wrong way are not defamatory simply because the person allegedly defamed did not like what was said about them.  Rather, “the statement must be made with reference to a matter of significance and importance for that purpose, rather than a more general reflection upon the plaintiff's character or qualities."  When defending a defamation action, it is important to look beyond the truth or falsity of the statements, and delve into the context and effect the statements had on the general public.  Oftentimes, a plaintiff will lack the necessary elements to sustain their claim, and a motion to dismiss can be made.
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