In a newly decided District Court case, the court made a ruling impacting where venue is proper when filing a defamation case. If you are wondering, venue is defined as the proper place to have a civil or criminal trial because of important related events taking place in that location.
Published AND Accessed
This is the case of Lowery v. Mcbee decided on June 9, 2021. The Plaintiff here asserted libel against the Defendant from the Defendant’s alleged public Facebook post. This case was brought in Palm Beach County even though the Defendant was a resident of Martin County. The main argument and most important one of this case is that the Plaintiff argued that venue was proper in Palm Beach County because that was where the post was received and read by a third party.
On the other hand, the Defendant tried arguing that venue was proper where the libelous statement originated, in this case Martin County. However, the court rejected this argument. The court held that a tort accrues where a plaintiff first suffers an injury. The court held that “there was no ‘injury’ to Plaintiff until the allegedly defamatory Facebook post was published and accessed (received and read).” Therefore, no cause has accrued until the communication is accessed. The court also noted that no one should have more than one choice of venue for damagers for libel.
Going forward, if you bring an action for libel, venue may be proper in the location where the post was published (received) and accessed (read). This is the ruling because the court reasoned that no injury occurs until a post is published and accessed as opposed to injury occurring when a post is originated.