Litigation privilege protects attorneys and parties in a lawsuit from defamation claims stemming from statements made during the trial. This privilege does not extend outside the courtroom, especially to comments made online.
This was the matter at fact in the 2011 case Ball v. D’Lites Enterprises, Inc. 65 So.3d 637 (Fla. 4 CA 2011). After the suit had been filed, the defendants posted statements on their website saying the plaintiffs had violated trademarks. Ball then filed a complaint against the defendants for defamation.
Defamation refers to any statement that harms a person or company’s reputation. Written defamation is called libel and spoken defamation is called slander.
The defamation claim was dismissed by the trial court, but the district court disagreed, stating “We analogize the publication of statements on the internet to calling a press conference with the media or otherwise publishing defamatory information to the newspapers or other media.
The moral of this case is to watch what you say, especially if you are online and/or in the middle of a litigation case.
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