In a stunning move, even for White Springs, the town has now threatened us, the Griffin’s, with libel. Several thoughts come to mind. The town quoted Florida Statutes 836 and 770. The 836 action is a criminal action that would have to be brought by the State’s attorney. I believe that is a non-starter. I don’t believe Jeff Sigmeister will jump into that tar baby. It’s a Blog for goodness sake. The e-mails are non published. No I don’t believe Sigmeister will want to take that on. The 770 Statute is quoted below:
770.01 Notice condition precedent to action or prosecution for libel or slander.—Before any civil action is brought for publication or broadcast, in a newspaper, periodical, or other medium, of a libel or slander, the plaintiff shall, at least 5 days before instituting such action, serve notice in writing on the defendant, specifying the article or broadcast and the statements therein which he or she alleges to be false and defamatory.
History.—s. 1, ch. 16070, 1933; CGL 1936 Supp. 7064(1); s. 1, ch. 76-123; s. 1178, ch. 97-102.
770.02 Correction, apology, or retraction by newspaper or broadcast station.—
(1) If it appears upon the trial that said article or broadcast was published in good faith; that its falsity was due to an honest mistake of the facts; that there were reasonable grounds for believing that the statements in said article or broadcast were true; and that, within the period of time specified in subsection (2), a full and fair correction, apology, or retraction was, in the case of a newspaper or periodical, published in the same editions or corresponding issues of the newspaper or periodical in which said article appeared and in as conspicuous place and type as said original article or, in the case of a broadcast, the correction, apology, or retraction was broadcast at a comparable time, then the plaintiff in such case shall recover only actual damages.
(2) Full and fair correction, apology, or retraction shall be made:
(a) In the case of a broadcast or a daily or weekly newspaper or periodical, within 10 days after service of notice;
(b) In the case of a newspaper or periodical published semimonthly, within 20 days after service of notice;
(c) In the case of a newspaper or periodical published monthly, within 45 days after service of notice; and
(d) In the case of a newspaper or periodical published less frequently than monthly, in the next issue, provided notice is served no later than 45 days prior to such publication.
History.—s. 2, ch. 16070, 1933; CGL 1936 Supp. 7064(2); s. 1, ch. 76-123; s. 233, ch. 77-104; s. 1, ch. 80-34.
770.03 Civil liability of broadcasting stations.—The owner, lessee, licensee, or operator of a broadcasting station shall have the right, except when prohibited by federal law or regulation, but shall not be compelled, to require the submission of a written copy of any statement intended to be broadcast over such station 24 hours before the time of the intended broadcast thereof. When such owner, lessee, licensee, or operator has so required the submission of such copy, such owner, lessee, licensee, or operator shall not be liable in damages for any libelous or slanderous utterance made by or for the person or party submitting a copy of such proposed broadcast which is not contained in such copy. This section shall not be construed to relieve the person or party or the agents or servants of such person or party making any such libelous or slanderous utterance from liability therefor.
History.—ss. 1, 2, 3, ch. 19616, 1939; CGL 1940 Supp. 7064 Supp. 7064(4); s. 1, ch. 20869; s. 1, ch. 76-123.
770.04 Civil liability of radio or television broadcasting stations; care to prevent publication or utterance required.—The owner, licensee, or operator of a radio or television broadcasting station, and the agents or employees of any such owner, licensee or operator, shall not be liable for any damages for any defamatory statement published or uttered in or as a part of a radio or television broadcast, by one other than such owner, licensee or operator, or general agent or employees thereof, unless it shall be alleged and proved by the complaining party, that such owner, licensee, operator, general agent or employee, has failed to exercise due care to prevent the publication or utterance of such statement in such broadcasts, provided, however, the exercise of due care shall be construed to include the bona fide compliance with any federal law or the regulation of any federal regulatory agency.
History.—s. 1, ch. 23802, 1947; s. 1, ch. 25278, 1949.
770.05 Limitation of choice of venue.—No person shall have more than one choice of venue for damages for libel or slander, invasion of privacy, or any other tort founded upon any single publication, exhibition, or utterance, such as any one edition of a newspaper, book, or magazine, any one presentation to an audience, any one broadcast over radio or television, or any one exhibition of a motion picture. Recovery in any action shall include all damages for any such tort suffered by the plaintiff in all jurisdictions.
History.—s. 1, ch. 67-52.
770.06 Adverse judgment in any jurisdiction a bar to additional action.—A judgment in any jurisdiction for or against the plaintiff upon the substantive merits of any action for damages founded upon a single publication or exhibition or utterance as described in s. 770.05 shall bar any other action for damages by the same plaintiff against the same defendant founded upon the same publication or exhibition or utterance.
History.—s. 2, ch. 67-52.
770.07 Cause of action, time of accrual.—The cause of action for damages founded upon a single publication or exhibition or utterance, as described in s. 770.05, shall be deemed to have accrued at the time of the first publication or exhibition or utterance thereof in this state.
History.—s. 3, ch. 67-52.
770.08 Limitation on recovery of damages.—No person shall have more than one choice of venue for damages for libel founded upon a single publication or exhibition or utterance, as described in s. 770.05, and upon his or her election in any one of his or her choices of venue, then the person shall be bound to recover there all damages allowed him or her.
History.—s. 4, ch. 67-52; s. 1179, ch. 97-102.
I, for the life of me, don’t know what the Council was thinking. I’ve asked for the paperwork that shows I committed Libel and the town has yet to respond. Surprise, surprise, surprise. Do you really think that the town wants to devote the money it would cost the taxpayers just because their feelings got hurt. The only thing I’ve ever threatened them with is Legal Action.
But it was nice hearing from Fred Koberlein today, even if it was a different subject.