- December 31, 2013
- by Milton Stratos
- Comments Off on SOUTH CAROLINA JURY WIELDS FULL DISCRETION IN DEFAMTION AWARD
- posted in Torts
SOUTH CAROLINA JURY WIELDS FULL DISCRETION IN DEFAMTION AWARD
KING v. SANTEE RESORT CONDO ASSOCIATION, ET. AL.
Case No. 2011-CP-14-00541
On December 5, 2013, a Plaintiff’s verdict of $980,000.00 was awarded by a Clarendon County Court of Common Pleas jury in King v. Santee Resort Condo Ass., et. al.
The jury awarded the rather large sum in damages, after two days of deliberation, for defamation due to statements made by members of the Santee Resort Condominiums Association board regarding the Plaintiff’s arrest record, and criminal sexual orientation. Apparently, member of the association and/or board were upset over a few hundred dollars of unpaid regime dues owed by the Plaintiff. Regarding the false statements, members of the board and/or association made statements to third parties, namely agents of the Plaintiff’s bank, accusing the Plaintiff of being a child molester. Evidence was also presented to the jury of a printed copy of a sex offender mug shot and rap sheet which insinuated the offender was the Plaintiff. This copy was distributed within the condominium by an unknown source. In fact, the Plaintiff was not the man captured in the mug shot and the Plaintiff was not a sex offender.
You may be left wondering, what exactly is defamation? Generally, the tort of defamation is defined as a statement which is spoken, written or otherwise communicated about another person that has a natural and direct tendency to harm that person’s reputation. Capps v. Watts, 271 S.C. 276 (1978). To prove defamation in S.C. a plaintiff must show that the statement was false and defamatory; that it was not a privileged statement; that the statement was published to a third party; the publisher was at fault; and, either the statement is actionable per se, or that it caused special harm. Williams v. Lancaster County School District, 396 S.C. 293, 631 S.E. 2d 286 (Ct. App. 2006).
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