In a lot anticipated decision, a Florida appellate court has reversed an $18 million dissension jury award against a newspaper based on a claim of false light invasion of privacy. In Gannett Co., Inc., Multimedia Holdings Corp. D/b/a The Pensacola News-Journal and also Multimedia, Inc. V. Joe Anderson, Jr., the Florida very first District Court of very nice ruled the false light invasion of privacy insurance claims must it is in filed in ~ the very same two-year state of constraints that applies to defamation actions. Due to the fact that the plaintiff had filed his claim much more than two years after the publication, the lawsuit to be time-barred, the appeals court held.

While that disagreed through the trial court’s ruling that had used a four-year statute of limitations to the false irradiate claim, the appeals court nonetheless certified the case as gift in conflict with a decision of an additional Florida appeals court, which method the Florida supreme Court should now decide whether to evaluation the ruling and also clarify this area that the law.

The case occurred out that a December 14, 1998, Pensacola News Journal short article that ran under the headline, “Contractor put Squeeze on State,” with the subheadline, “Company Pursues politics Clout.” The write-up reported on grand jury investigations and other matters, trying out whether a state paving contractor, Anderson Columbia, Inc., had actually a sample of benefiting from campaign contributions and also political connections. Component of the article discussed the reality that Joe Anderson, Jr., the company’s founder, had been indicted in 1983 on bribery charges, plead guilty to mail fraud and also been sentenced to expanded probation. The article reported:

In 1988, while still on probation and also before his conviction to be reversed, Anderson shot and also killed his wife, Ira Anderson, with a 12-gauge shotgun.

The death emerged in Dixie County simply north of Suwannee whereby days before the shoot Joe Anderson had actually filed because that divorce however then had the case dismissed.

Law enforcement officials established the shooting to be a searching accident.

A commonwealth judge ruled that by having actually the shotgun, Anderson violated his probation, and also the judge included two years to Anderson’s probation.

Following this passage, the post addressed various other matters concerning Anderson Columbia’s viewed political clout, and also concluded by listing the company’s political contributions and favors it had actually received.

Joe Anderson, Jr., claimed that the article falsely comprise he had actually murdered his wife and also gotten away with it, also though all of the facts stated in the article were true. His very first complaint sought loss for libel and tortious interference through a company relationship. That filed the complaint on march 21, 2001, much more than two years after ~ the December 1998 publishing date. The attempt court threw the end the insurance claim for libel under the two-year state of limitations for that type of claim. Anderson amended his complaint, however, to restate the insurance claim as one for invasion of privacy based upon the false irradiate theory. The instance proceeded come trial in December 2003, and also the jury changed a verdict in favor of Anderson because that $18.28 million dollars in compensatory damages.

On appeal, Florida’s an initial District Court of appeal concluded that Anderson’s false light insurance claim was no various from an activity for libel, and was thus subject to the two-year state that applies to defamation actions. The court additionally expressed doubts about the presence of a cause of activity for invasion of privacy based upon a false irradiate theory. ~ reviewing a variety of Florida supreme Court decisions, the court wrote:

We finish from every one of these decision that, return the can be fried Court has recognized the potential presence of a reason of action for invasion of privacy based upon a false light theory, it has actually never had actually occasion to decision whether such a cause of action actually exist in Florida.

The first District Court the Appeal specifically disagreed with another appellate district’s decision in a 2001 case versus CBS transfer Co. There, the court expressly held that because Florida’s libel statute of restrictions does not clearly say that it consist of false light, and also because false light is a branch of the intrusion of privacy tort and also not libel, Florida’s catchall 4 year statute of limitations applied to a false irradiate claim.

In the Pensacola News journal case, one referee concurred in the an outcome but sharply disagreed v the majority’s finding the false light cases generally loss under the two-year state of limitations. Instead, the concurring judge composed that the agreed through the CBS broadcasting decision from the various other district, and also that false light claims should be subject to the four-year limitations period.

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That agreed through the majority on the decision to reverse the jury verdict, however, because, in his view, the plaintiff just recast his claim as false irradiate to protect against the libel statute of limitations after the trial judge threw out the libel claim.

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