Picture of the word Defamation on Dictionary

To have a claim for defamation in Florida, the following elements must be proved:

1. Publication;

The statement was communicated to at least one other third-party, verbally (libel) or in writing (slander).

2. Falsity;

To create liability for defamation, there must be publication of matter that is both defamator and false. There can be no recovery in defamation for a statement of fact that is true, despite the motivation of the person publishing the comment.

3. The defendant acted with knowledge or reckless disregard as to the falsity of the matter concerning a public official, or at least negligently on a statement concerning a private figure; The defendant must have acted with at least negligence in determining whether the statement was true. 

4. Actual damages; and 

The false statement must have caused real harm to the complainant. This may include harm to personal or professional life. 

5. The statement must be defamatory.

Restatement (Second) of Torts § 559 defines a communication as defamatory if “it tends so to harm the reputation of another as to lower him in the estimation of the community or to deter third persons from associating or dealing with him. Jews For Jesus, Inc. v. Rapp, 997 So. 2d 1098, 1106 (Fla. 2008); See Restatement (Second) of Torts §§ 558B, 580A–580B. 

What steps can you take in response to a false and defamatory comment posted on Google about your business?

Option 1: Ignore 

Ignore the negative comment. Reach out to friends, family, and customers to leave positive feedback and reviews. Thus, the negative review will be drowned out and attract less attention. The pro’s to this method is that it costs no money. The con is that there is nothing stopping the negative reviewer from leaving another defamatory comment.

Option 2: Reach out Yourself 

Reach out to the negative reviewer yourself. Explain to him or her that you would like to handle this matter before getting a lawyer involved. Perhaps you can negotiate a deal amongst yourselves. This would save both parties time and money. Hopefully, good faith communication will resolve the issue. The pro is that this option costs no money. The con is that, as the aggrieved party, you may have to give up something to get the comment reviewed even though it is legally defamatory.

Option 3: Report to Google

Try everything you can to report the defamatory review to Google. The pro is that this option 

again costs no money and can be done before enlisting the help of a qualified attorney. The con is that Google tends to take a long time before responding or handling these complaints.

Option 4: Third-Party Company

You have the option to work with a third-party company. Companies will try to get the google review removed. If successful, they charge you $1,000 per removed review. The pro to this option is that a third-party professional will be handling your matter. The con is that this is a costly method and there is no guarantee the negative reviewer will not leave another comment.

Option 5: Cease and Desist Letter

Options 5 and 6 both involve getting a qualified attorney involved in your matter. Once you have retained counsel, the attorney will send a cease and desist letter to the reviewer. This is a written notice demanding that the recipient immediately stop the illegal activity. In this scenario, the cease and desist would demand the reviewer to take down the defamatory review or face a lawsuit.

Option 6: Initiate a Lawsuit 

Option six is to initiate a lawsuit. If the negative reviewer is anonymous, this option includes identifying the anonymous reviewer who posted a defamatory and false comment. First, your attorney will file a John Doe lawsuit for defamation in the local county. This allows your attorney to use subpoena power. This subpoena power will be used to first subpoena google (or any web service the comment is posted on). Google will send you to the internet provider. The subpoena power will then be used to subpoena the internet provider who will provide the name of the actual account holder. Then, your attorney will amend the complaint to include the actual name of the reviewer.

EPGD Business Law is located in beautiful Coral Gables. Call us at (786) 837-6787, or contact us through the website to schedule a consultation.

*Disclaimer: this blog post is not intended to be legal advice. We highly recommend speaking to an attorney if you have any legal concerns. Contacting us through our website does not establish an attorney-client relationship.*

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Eric Gros-Dubois

Founding partner Eric Gros-Dubois established EPGD Business Law in 2013. With over a decade of experience expanding the firm and leading it to its current success, Eric now primarily manages the corporate division of EPGD. Given Eric’s educational background, holding both a JD and MBA, combined with his own unique experience of starting a business from scratch and growing it to a multi-million dollar firm, he brings a specialized and invaluable perspective to those seeking legal assistance for themselves and their businesses. Having now instilled his same values in our team of skilled corporate associates, Eric leads a firm that is always ready, willing, and equipped to handle any and every legal matter that a business owner may have.


*The following comments are not intended to be treated as legal advice. The answer to your question is limited to the basic facts presented. Additional details may heavily alter our assessment and change the answer provided. For a more thorough review of your question please contact our office for a consultation.

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