On October 19, 2016, Acting Supreme Court Justice Joseph Farneti issued a judgment for F&W’s client granting $100,000 in damages against the defendant. The judgment includes compensatory and punitive damages.
On August 21, 2015, F&W filed the lawsuit alleging the defendant had made false posts on Facebook about a corporation and one of its corporate officers. F&W alleged that the posts tended to injure the clients in their profession and accused them of a crime, so the posts constituted libel per se. Under the law of libel per se, the law presumes damages have occurred and plaintiffs do not need to show “special” damages.
After the defendant failed to appear to defend himself in the suit, the Court ordered an inquest to be held to determine damages. Appearing at the inquest, F&W partner, Matt Weinick, argued that because the Facebook posts constituted libel per, his clients did not need to prove damages, but nonetheless, they were prepared to prove significant damages to the Court. The Court suggested that Weinick had a “tough road” even though liability was established by the defendant failing to appear, because “there are certain legal requirements in the law of libel with respect to the statements, publication, who was affected by it, and what damages it can cause.”
Weinick presented several similar cases showing the types and amounts of damages judges awarded in those cases. Then, the corporate officer was sworn in and Weinick took his direct examination, eliciting evidence about the damage to the clients’ reputation and emotional damages.
After the inquest, F&W submitted a memorandum of law discussing similar cases and showing how the facts of this case compared to the other cases. Weinick also argued that the Facebook posts showed that the defendant intended to injure the plaintiffs so punitive damages were appropriate. As noted, the Judge ultimately agreed and awarded the full amount of damages asked for by F&W.
If you have questions about defamation or libel per se, contact the lawyers at Famighetti & Weinick, PLLC at 631-352-0050 or visit our website at https://www.linycemploymentlaw.com.