Florida has defamation laws that protect individuals and companies from false statements that harm their reputations. Defamation is broadly defined as a false statement published or spoken to a third party that causes harm to the reputation of the person the statement is about. Defamation can be broken down into two categories: libel and slander.

In Florida, a plaintiff bringing a defamation claim must prove that the defendant made a false and defamatory statement about them, which was communicated to a third party, and caused harm to the plaintiff’s reputation. Additionally, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant acted negligently or with actual malice when making the statement.

Actual malice means that the defendant knew the statement was false or acted with reckless disregard for whether the statement was true or false. This is a higher standard of proof than negligence, requiring the plaintiff to show that the defendant failed to exercise reasonable care in making the statement.

If a plaintiff prevails in a defamation case in Florida, they may be entitled to damages for the harm caused to their reputation, as well as any financial losses that resulted from the defamation. Defamation cases can be complex, and it is important to consult with an experienced attorney if you believe you have been defamed or if you are facing a defamation claim.

Elements of defamation

According to the case of Border Collie Rescue v. Ryan, to make a defamation claim under Florida law, the following elements must be present:

  1. The defendant made a statement that is false;
  2. The statement is about the plaintiff;
  3. The statement was communicated to a third party; and
  4. The statement caused harm or injury to the plaintiff.

In order to succeed in a defamation claim in Florida, the plaintiff must also prove that the defendant’s fault in publishing the false statement amounted to at least negligence. This means the defendant must have failed to exercise reasonable care when making the false statement. If the plaintiff can prove all of these elements, they may be entitled to damages.

Examples of defamation

In Florida, some examples of defamation include:

  1. A newspaper publishes a false article claiming that a local business owner is involved in illegal activities, causing the business owner to lose customers and suffer financial harm.
  2. A former employee of a company posts a negative and false review on a popular online review site, causing the company to lose business and suffer harm to its reputation.
  3. An individual spreads false rumors about a public figure, such as a politician or celebrity, causing damage to their reputation and potentially impacting their career or public image.
  4. A competitor of a business spreads false information about the quality of the business’s products or services, leading to a decrease in sales and harm to the business’s reputation.
  5. A person publishes false and defamatory statements about a neighbor on social media, causing the neighbor to suffer harm to their reputation and potentially impacting their personal and professional relationships.

These are just a few examples of how defamation can occur in Florida. A skilled attorney can help victims of defamation navigate the legal system and seek justice for any harm caused by defamatory statements.

What legal recourse do Florida businesses have at their disposal?

Florida law recognizes that businesses have a reputation that can be damaged by false statements, just as individuals do. This means that businesses can be the subject of defamatory statements made by competitors, customers, employees, or others that can cause harm to their reputation.

Additionally, Florida law recognizes a cause of action for defamation of a business’s products or services, known as “product disparagement.” This occurs when false statements are made about a business’s products or services that are intended to harm the business’s reputation and result in financial loss.

If you or your business have been the victim of defamation in Florida, there are legal options available to protect your rights. These include:

  1. Filing a defamation lawsuit: You may be able to file a lawsuit to recover damages for the harm caused by the defamatory statements. To succeed in a defamation lawsuit, you will need to prove that the statement was false, that it was communicated to others, and that it caused harm to your reputation.
  2. Seeking a retraction: In some cases, it may be possible to resolve a defamation issue by requesting that the person or entity that made the false statement issue a retraction or correction.
  3. Working with an attorney: If you believe you have been the victim of defamation, it’s important to work with an experienced attorney who can evaluate your case and advise you on the best course of action. An attorney can help you navigate the legal system and protect your rights.

It’s important to note that not all negative statements about a business constitute defamation. Statements of opinion or fair comment are generally protected under the First Amendment and cannot form the basis of a defamation claim. Additionally, statements that are true, even if they are negative, cannot be the basis of a defamation claim.

If a business believes it has been defamed, it’s important to consult with an experienced defamation attorney who can review the facts and provide guidance on the best course of action.

Defamation is a serious issue that can have long-lasting consequences for both individuals and businesses in Florida. If you believe you have been the victim of defamation, it’s important to protect your rights and seek legal recourse if necessary.

Challenges and Legal Recourse for High-Net-Worth Individuals in Defamation Cases in Florida

Florida’s defamation laws apply equally to all individuals, regardless of their financial status. However, high-net-worth individuals may face different challenges when pursuing a defamation claim. For instance, they may be subject to more public scrutiny or be public officals, making it more difficult to prove that the statement was false and caused them harm.

If a high-net-worth individual is the victim of defamation, they have legal recourse under Florida law. To prove a defamation claim, they must demonstrate that the defendant published a false statement about them to a third party and that the statement caused them harm. In addition, they must show that the defendant acted with negligence or actual malice, meaning they either knew the statement was false or recklessly disregarded the truth.

In Florida, high-net-worth individuals may also be entitled to more damages than the average person in a defamation case. This is because damages are calculated based on the harm caused to the victim’s reputation, which can be significant for individuals with a high public profile or net worth.

The Importance of Temporary and Permanent Injunctions in Protecting Your Business

When it comes to safeguarding your brand and market position in the business world, temporary or permanent injunctions can be a crucial tool. In defamation cases, injunctions can prevent the publication of inaccurate, confidential, or defamatory information, and even require the removal of harmful online content. Injunctions can also help protect one’s reputation and prevent further harm.

The Campbell Law Group understands the urgency of time-sensitive matters and can assist clients in obtaining injunctions to stop actions such as violation of non-competes, non-solicitation, or other detrimental actions. Our legal team has extensive experience in filing and defending against injunctions in Florida and can help clients navigate the legal process to achieve the best possible outcome.

Protecting Your Reputation with the Help of The Campbell Law Group

If you or your business have been the victim of defamation, time is of the essence. The Campbell Law Group has the experience and expertise to assist you in pursuing legal action. With their expertise in defamation law, they can guide clients through the legal process and help them understand their rights and options. Whether dealing with false statements made by a competitor, a disgruntled employee, or a malicious online review, having a knowledgeable attorney on your side can make all the difference.

The Campbell Law Group’s ability to assist businesses all over Florida is also a valuable asset. Given the size and diversity of Florida’s business landscape, it’s important to have legal representation that understands the nuances of the state’s defamation laws and can navigate the local court systems. By offering their services across the state, The Campbell Law Group can help businesses and high-net-worth individuals in various industries and regions of Florida protect their reputations and seek justice for any harm caused by defamatory statements. Contact us today.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long do I have to file a defamation lawsuit in Florida?

The statute of limitations for a defamation claim in Florida is two years from the date of the publication of the statement. This means that a plaintiff must file their lawsuit within two years of the defamatory statement being made, or they may lose their right to pursue legal action. It’s important to act quickly if you believe you have been defamed, as waiting too long could result in the loss of your legal options.

What is the difference between libel and slander?

Libel and slander are two forms of defamation. Libel refers to written or published defamatory statements visible to a third party, while slander refers to spoken defamatory statements. The key difference between the two is the form of communication, with libel being written and slander being spoken. In both cases, the defamatory statement must be false, and it must cause harm to the victim’s reputation. The laws governing libel and slander in Florida are similar, with the same elements required to prove a defamation claim.

What should I do if I think I have been defamed in Florida?

Acting promptly is crucial if you suspect you have been defamed in Florida. Seeking the guidance of an experienced defamation lawyer is essential to evaluate your legal options and deciding on the most appropriate course of action.

What damages are you entitled to if you have been defamed?

If you have been defamed in Florida, you may be entitled to damages for the harm caused to your reputation, including economic and emotional damages. Economic damages may include lost income or business opportunities, while emotional damages may include pain and suffering or emotional distress. The number of damages awarded in a defamation case will depend on the specific circumstances of the case and the extent of harm caused to the victim’s reputation. Consulting with an experienced defamation attorney can help you understand your rights and options for pursuing damages in a defamation case.

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Corporate and Family Law Attorney and
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Hofstra University Maurice A. Deane School of Law – Hempstead, New York Juris Doctorate (2007)

Florida International University – Miami, Florida – Bachelor of Arts in Political Science (1998)


Florida Bar (2009)
United States District Court for the Southern District (2013), Middle (2015) and Northern Districts of Florida (2018)
United States Bankruptcy Court for the Middle and Southern Districts of Florida (2015)
Member of the Collaborative Family Law Institute, Inc. (2017)

Regina is the Managing Partner of The Campbell Law Group based in Coral Gables, Florida. She is recognized for her unique insight, resourceful problem-solving skills and understanding of how legal issues affect people and companies differently.

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