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$________ Defamation – False statements published about homeowners’ association board members – Damage to reputation – Emotional injuries.

Pinellas County, FL

The plaintiffs, in this defamation action, were two board members (and one of the member’s wives) for the homeowners association where both the plaintiffs and defendant resided. The plaintiffs claimed that the defendant published a false and defamatory letter accusing them of being thieves. The defendants argued that the statements contained in the letter circulated to residents were true.

The plaintiffs alleged that the letter written by the defendant falsely accused them of misappropriating association funds for their personal use, and accused them of committing fraud and being thieves.

One of the plaintiffs had moved to the Philippines, and did not appear at trail.

The defendant argued that the plaintiffs were under investigation by state and county authorities for their activities as board members. The investigation was ultimately dropped. The defense maintained that the two-page letter simply raised concerns about issues, such as how one of the plaintiffs obtained a fence behind his house when no other residents had such an amenity.The jury found that the defendant published a defamatory statement about one of the plaintiff’s, but not the other. The plaintiff was awarded $________ in damages, and his wife was awarded $________ for her derivative claim. The defendant argues, post-trial, that the verdict is inconsistent since both plaintiffs were referenced in the defendant’s letter.

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