Motions to dismiss Palm Coast Travel lawsuit filed with court

It’s our turn.

Almost three months after filing a lawsuit against one of its customers and me, our lawyers have answered Palm Coast Travel’s charges in two separate motions for dismissal.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Chubb. Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

Here’s Peter Lay’s motion (PDF); here’s mine (PDF).

I’ll hit the highlights, starting at the top. Here’s the summary of my attorney’s response:

This lawsuit is a classic example of a corporation attempting to use the burden and expense of litigation to silence a consumer advocate and stifle free speech.

Count I and Count II of Plaintiff’s Complaint must be dismissed because Plaintiff fails to state a cause of action for either defamation or tortious interference against Elliott. To state a valid claim for defamation under Florida law, a plaintiff must plead actual damages. By failing to identify a single customer affected as a result of Elliott’s alleged defamatory statements, Plaintiff fails to state a cause of action for defamation.

Plaintiff also improperly alleges that Elliott’s reporting depicted it in a “false light,” a tort that has been abandoned by Florida courts. Similarly, Plaintiff also fails to state a cause of action for tortious interference. It is well established under Florida law that a plaintiff claiming tortious interference must identify the agreement or the specific customers allegedly interfered with.

Plaintiff does not specify a single customer or agreement allegedly interfered with. Furthermore, the alleged defamatory statements at issue in this case are simply nonactionable, protected as privileged under basic Florida defamation law.

This Court should put an immediate halt to Plaintiff’s attempts to use expensive litigation to silence a renowned consumer advocate, and should readily dismiss this baseless action.

Here’s Lay’s attorney’s summary:

Counts III and IV of Plaintiff, SMOLINSKI AND ASSOCIATES, INC. D/B/A PALM COAST TRAVEL’S Complaint (hereinafter “Complaint”) should be dismissed because the claims of defamation and tortious interference asserted against Defendant, PETER LAY fail to state causes of action for which relief may be granted, and the Court cannot properly maintain personal jurisdiction over Defendant, PETER LAY in this matter.

Not much more to say. See you in court.

(Photo: billaday/Flickr Creative Commons)

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