Injurious Falsehood

  1. Introduction

    A WMC victim may bring a claim for injurious falsehood when the claim arises in the context of defendant’s alleged false statements about plaintiff’s business that cause economic damages; however, the allegedly false statements in such cases are not aimed at the plaintiff him or herself, but to third parties.

  2. Elements

    1) Falsehoods published about plaintiff about the manner in which they conducted business;

    2) Falsehoods published/communicated to third parties;

    3) Defendants knew the falsehoods might influence third parties; and

    4) The falsehoods played a material and substantial part in inducing others not to invest in plaintiff’s business.1

  3. Cases

    Research is ongoing. A search of Florida cases citing this law did not reveal any cases that are factually relevant or analogous to WMC’s target situations.

  4. Practice Pointers

    An action for injurious falsehood resembles one for defamation because both involve “the imposition of liability for injuries sustained through publication to third parties of a false statement affecting the plaintiff,” but the two torts protect different interests.2 While defamation protects an injured party’s personal reputation, an action for injurious falsehood protects his or her economic interests against pecuniary loss.3

An essential element of injurious falsehood is that it caused the victim special damages.4 Thus, where the victim’s proof cannot eliminate the possibility that a loss of future expectations can be explained by other factors, no injurious falsehood claim may lie.

  1. Salit v. Ruden, McClosky, Smith, Schuster & Russell, P.A., 742 So. 2d 381, 388 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1999). 

  2. Callaway Land & Cattle Co., Inc. v. Banyon Lakes C. Corp., 831 So. 2d 204, 209 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2002). 

  3. Id. (citing Restatement (Second) of Torts § 623A (1977)). 

  4. Donald M. Paterson v. Bonda, 425 So. 2d 206, 208 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1983) (failure to produce evidence of any damage).