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socrateaser, Lawyer
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Retired (mostly)
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State of Florida I am self employed small business services

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State of Florida

I am self employed small business services and accounting. I have a client that owns independent franchise businesses. This client is also a regional coordinator for the franchise (not a paid position, a status position).

An individual used my identity on an email account to send emails to franchise executives accusing my client of business activities / practices for which the franchise needs to take diciplinary action. I know who the individuals are that were involved and would not be difficult to prove with professional investigation.

Is this grounds for persuing action with regards XXXXX XXXXX Fraud, Libel, and or anything else I may not be aware of?

1. Commercial misappropriation of identity (FL. Stat. 540.08) may be available, if the action of the defendant in sending emails displaying your identity is done in connection with a trade or advertising purpose.

2. Libel (written defamation of character) occurs where a defendant publishes a false and reputation injurying statement to a third party and causes damages. Here, the defendant's publication as if it were from you is a false and reputation injuring act, and since it is published to someone other than you, libel is a valid claim.

3. Identity Theft. FL Stat 817.568 makes it a felony to fraudulently use the identity of another. There is, however, no civil action to recover damages as part of this criminal statute. Your recourse is simply to report the matter to law enforcement.

4. Common law fraud occurs where a person makes a false statement of material fact intended to induce justifiable and detrimental reliance and causing damages. This claim may be viable to you, since the false statements are intended to induce reliance by the recipient, and causes you reputational injury. However, it is duplicative of defamation in this instance -- so, there may be no reason to allege this count in a civil complaint.

5. Interference with contract. By sending the emails, the defendant is interfering with the contract between you and your client, for a wrongful purpose. Therefore, this is a viable claim.

6. Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (IIED). This occurs where a defendant causes a plaintiff severe emotional distress through outrageous means. The claim generally requires that you actually seek professional mental health treatment for the traumatic effect of the defendant's actions. If you do, then you have a claim for IIED.

7.Trade Dress infringement. Use of your nonfunctional business identifiers is actionable, even if your name is XXXXX XXXXX of trademark registration. The use of your name as a business, is a trade dress infringement and is actionable as such.

That's about everything that I can think of. Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.
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