Keep up with the latest developments and legal issues in the telecommunications and emerging technology sectors, with exclusive access to a comprehensive collection of telecommunications law news,...
By Alexis Kramer
Jan. 6 — Online reviews alleging that an attorney falsified a contract and misrepresented her fees to a client weren't protected as free speech, the Florida District Court of Appeal for the Fourth District held Jan. 6 (Blake v. Ann-Marie Giustibelli, P.A., Fla. Dist. Ct. App., No. 4D14-3231, 1/6/16).
Chief Judge Cory J. Ciklin rejected the client's argument that the online reviews weren't actionable under the First Amendment because they constituted statements of opinion.
“These are factual allegations, and the evidence showed they were false,” the court said.
Attorney Ann-Marie Giustibelli represented Copia Blake in a divorce proceeding. After a breakdown in their attorney-client relationship, Blake posted allegedly defamatory online reviews about Giustibelli. Giustibelli brought a libel claim, in which the trial court awarded her damages. Blake appealed.
The court said Blake admitted at trial that Giustibelli didn't charge four times more than what was quoted in the contract, despite her online reviews alleging that she was overcharged by this amount.
Blake also argued “libel per se” no longer exists as a legal concept after Gertz v. Robert Welch Inc., 418 U.S. 323 (1974), in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that fault and proof of damages must be established in libel cases involving media defendants.
Here, the court distinguished Gertz because this case involves a private party, not a media defendant. The doctrine of libel per se still exists in Florida, the court said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Alexis Kramer in Washington at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Thomas O'Toole at firstname.lastname@example.org
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)