Daytona Beach Personal Injury Lawyers
Free Consultations 386.258.1622

Florida Second DCA rules that Florida statutory requirement of presuit notice to prospective defendant in libel and slander cases only applies to news media, not movie and book companies

On July 10, 2019, in Mazur v. Baraya, No. 2D18-4268, the Florida Second DCA denied a certiorari petition by the defendants in a libel case to overturn a trial court’s ruling denying the defendants’ motion to dismiss on the ground that that the plaintiff had filed to provide them with the presuit notice required by Section 770.01, Florida Statutes. The plaintiff in the instant case sued the defendants, who were collectively involved in various aspects of book publishing and movie production, because he had been identified in a nonfiction book as a member of Pablo Escobar’s criminal drug operations as well as in a movie based on the book. Section 770.01 requires that the  plaintiff in a libel or slander case must provide pre-suit notice in writing to prospective defendants at least five days before instituting the action.  However, the statute only expressly applies to allegedly tortious publication or broadcasts “in a newspaper, periodical, or other medium.”  The defendants unsuccessfully argued before the trial court that the case should be dismissed because they were not provided with the statutory presuit notice.  The Second DCA agreed with the trial court, noting  that  “Florida courts have consistently interpreted section 770.01 to apply only to news media, i.e., the press.”  The Court quoted from the Florida Supreme Court’s decision in Ross

v. Gore, 48 So. 2d 412, 415 (Fla. 1950), for guidance on the parameters of the statutory language in section 770.01, which was originally enacted “to afford to newspapers and periodicals an opportunity in every case to make a full and fair retraction in mitigation of the damages which a person may have suffered by reason of the publication.”  See also Schiller v. Viacom, Inc., 2016 WL 9280239, at *11 (S.D. Fla. 2016) (holding that "actors, film producers and screenplay writers" were non-media defendants because they were "not engaged in the dissemination of news and information through the news and broadcast media").