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Dimitry K., Esq.
Dimitry K., Esq., Attorney
Category: Business Law
Satisfied Customers: 41221
Experience:  Run my own successful business/contract law practice.
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Can a small non-profit organization file suit against someone

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Can a small non-profit organization file suit against someone who makes false statements about them?

Thank you for your question. Please permit me to assist you with your concerns.

A non-profit, large or small, has the same right to utilize the courts and seek protection as any 'for-profit' entity or any individual for that matter. If someone is making false statements against the group, that would be considered defamation, in this instance potentially 'business defamation'.

Under Florida laws, the elements of a defamation claim are:

  1. the defendant published a false statement;
  2. of or about the plaintiff (the non-profit);
  3. to a third party; and
  4. the falsity of the statement caused injury to the plaintiff.

Border Collie Rescue v. Ryan, 418 F.Supp.2d 1330, 1348 (M.D.Fla. 2006).

Florida's statute of limitations for actions under defamation are 2 years from the date the defamatory comment was made.

Hope that helps.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

First three elements have been documented. Fourth Element we have had numerous un-subscriptions from our support group and loss of "possible donations". Unable to determine further injury without time. Do believe it has damaged our reputation as we have been in operation for over 12 years with no problems other than people not wanting to follow guide lines which caused this tirade. Only time will tell?

Thank you for your follow-up.

Typically the fourth element is the one that gives individuals and businesses the most trouble--it is at times very hard to prove injury. But for that you may need to retain counsel (a non-profit, being an artificial entity, must be represented by an attorney anyway), and have the attorney create a graphed estimate of losses pertaining to the defamatory comments made against the entity. That could create a more direct measure of loss and an expected loss over time as well.

Good luck.

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