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Bob Carroll
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Internet Defamation Can Carry A Big Price Tag

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The internet is not entirely a free fire zone. Defamation on the internet can be the basis for a lawsuit and for the award of significant damages. A Florida courtroom was the scene of this litigation.

Jury Awards Woman $11.3M in Internet Defamation Suit

A Weston, Fla., woman who spoke out publicly against a Utah-based company affiliated with a controversial chain of boarding schools for troubled teens around the world has won an $11.3 million Internet defamation verdict.

On Sept. 19, Susan Scheff and her Weston-based company, Parents Universal Resource Experts Inc., won the jury verdict in Broward Circuit Court against Carey Bock, a woman whom Scheff helped in getting Bock’s two sons out of a school in Costa Rica. The judgment included $5 million in punitive damages.

Scheff filed the suit in December 2003, alleging that Bock posted defamatory statements about her on an Internet bulletin board viewed by parents of troubled teens, according to court pleadings.

The verdict is the latest chapter in the increasing volume of litigation around the country over the content of Internet sites, blogs and online bulletin boards.

“This is a new area of law,” said Scheff’s attorney, David H. Pollack of Miami. “The problem with the Internet is people can post anything about you and it can destroy you.”

Pollack said that his client previously offered to settle the case for $35,000.

Excerpted from Law.com article.