Shullman Fugate attorneys have represented national media in countless high profile criminal prosecutions, including the State of Florida's prosecutions of Casey Anthony, Justin Bieber, Jonathan Bleiweiss, John Couhy, Nikolas Cruz, Jeffrey Epstein, Tyler Hadley, Paul Merhige, Austin Harrouff and George Zimmerman, among others.
Obtained dismissal of a Hollywood producer’s defamation suit regarding The Hollywood Reporter’s article about the plaintiff’s public feud with a former colleague.
The Southern District of Florida court found that the plaintiff’s suit was precluded under Florida’s borrowing statute. Specifically, because the at-issue defamation claim arose in California (where the relationship between the two producers was centered), Florida law required that California’s one-year statute of limitations must apply (rather than Florida’s two-year statute), rendering the complaint time-barred.
Middleton v. The Hollywood Reporter, LLC, et al., Case No. 22-21951-CIV-Martinez
Obtained anti-SLAPP dismissal for Tampa radio station and DJ against a rival DJ’s defamation claims because, the judge explained, the “alleged speech at issue is nothing more than the typical banter expected in the radio industry,” i.e., “back-and-forth exchanges between rival DJs and others in which Plaintiff himself engages.” Mishiyev v. Davis, Case No. 20-CA-8301 (Fla. 13th Jud. Cir. May 20, 2023).
The dismissal came after the Second DCA granted a petition for certiorari finding the trial court erred by dismissing the anti-SLAPP motion without any findings or reasoning. The appellate court reaffirmed the heightened pleading and proof standard to oppose a motion to dismiss under Florida’s anti-SLAPP law, and found “[t]he unelaborated order of dismissal suggests that the trial court denied the motion utilizing an incorrect motion-to-dismiss standard." Davis v. Mishiyev, 339 So. 3d 449 (Fla. 2d DCA 2022).
Florida v. Foglesong, Case No. 22-1250 CFA (18th J. Cir. January 18, 2023). Successfully defended against a criminal defendant’s attempt to subpoena journalists’ newsgathering materials. The court denied the defendant’s motion and found that he satisfied none of the three elements required to overcome Florida’s qualified journalists’ privilege.
Bruce Munro and Bruce Munro Ltd. v. Kilburn Live, LLC et al, Case No. 20- 20079 (SDFL)(January 2022). Obtained summary judgment in favor of Defendants on copyright infringement and DMCA claims related to NightGarden, an outdoor light and sound experience in Miami.
In Re Sealed Search Warrant, Case No. 22-MJ-8332-BER (S.D. Fla. 2022). Obtained access to the affidavit and supporting documentation for the search warrant of former President Donald Trump’s home, Mar-a-Lago. The Southern District found that the documents, which concerned an investigation into the former president’s alleged illegal activity in handling classified information, was of great public importance and could not remain fully sealed. The court ordered the United States to release the documents to the public in partially redacted form.
Carroll v. DeLeon, 2021 WL 2224356 (Fla. 2d DCA 2021). Obtained affirmance of order granting multiple media defendants’ anti-SLAPP motions to dismiss that statements in news reports concerning plaintiff’s arrest were reasonably accurate and fair, and therefore protected by Florida’s fair report privilege. The appellate court also found the media defendants were entitled to fees pursuant to Florida’s anti-SLAPP statute.
Baskin v. Royal Goode Prods., LLC, No. 8:21-cv-2558-VMC-TGWn(M.D. Fla. 2021). Obtained report and recommendation denying preliminary injunction seeking to enjoin publication of docu-series. The plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed the action before the report and recommendation was adopted.
Jacoby v. Cable News Network, Inc., No. 21-12030 (11th Cir. 2021). Obtained affirmance of dismissal order where court deemed petition circulator a limited public figure who had failed to adequately allege actual malice.
Smikle v. WFTV, 266 So. 3d 856 (Fla. 5th DCA 2019). Obtained affirmance of order granting anti-SLAPP motion for summary judgment that found the reporting on plaintiff’s arrest to be protected opinion, substantially true, without defamatory meaning, and protected by Florida’s fair report privilege. The trial court also issued a final judgment awarding the defendant its trial and appellate fees pursuant to Florida’s anti-SLAPP statute.
MidlevelU, Inc. v. ACI Information Group, Case No. 9:18-cv-80843-BER (S.D. Fla. September 2019). Won $202,500 jury verdict and finding of willful copyright infringement in lawsuit concerning 50 copyrighted works. On March 3, 2021 the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment (Case No. 20-10856).
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Miller v. Gizmodo Media Group, LLC, et al., Case No. 1:18-cv-24227-CMA, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 145389 (S.D. Fla. Aug. 27, 2019). Obtained summary judgment in favor of media defendants on fair report grounds for statements made concerning court document filed in Florida family court proceeding. Order Granting Motion for Summary Judgment
Gubarev v. BuzzFeed, Case No. 17-cv-60426 (S.D. Fla. Feb. 28, 2019). Filed a motion to intervene on behalf of The New York Times and obtained an order unsealing court filings in underlying litigation wherein BuzzFeed was sued for libel after it published the Trump “Dossier.” Gubarev v. BuzzFeed order | pdf
Parekh v. CBS Corporation, et al., Case No. 6:18-cv-00466-PGB-TBS (M.D. Fla. Jan. 9, 2019). Obtained affirmance of defamation action based on lack of defamatory meaning and statements not “of and concerning” the plaintiff in connection with news report concerning cancer fraud scheme. Also successfully secured fee award, including determination that rate and total number of hours claimed were reasonable, pursuant to Florida’s anti-SLAPP statute.
Brinkman v. Mitchell-Proffitt, Company, et al., Case No. 3:16-cv-422-MCR-HTC, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 169374 (N.D. Fla. Aug. 31, 2018), adopting report and recommendation, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 167778 (N.D. Fla. Sept. 28, 2018). Obtained summary judgment in favor of business and individuals in copyright infringement action concerning 24 works of art, and secured fee award, including determination that rate and total number of hours claimed were reasonable, under the Copyright Act, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11, and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 68.
Cable News Network, Inc. et al v. School Board of Broward County et al, Case No. 18-004429 (17th Jud. Cir. Fla. 2018); aff’d Case No. 4D18-1335, 1336 (March 2, 2018 Fla. 4th DCA ); writ declined SC18-227 (Fla. Sup. Ct.). Represented a number of intervening media parties in successfully obtaining exterior surveillance footage from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School evidencing law enforcement response to tragic high school shooting.
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Boling v. WFTV, LLC, et al., Case No. 2017-CA-6488, 2018 Fla. Cir. LEXIS 1860 (Fla. 9th Jud. Cir. Feb. 27, 2018), aff’d, 274 So. 3d 392 (Fla. 5th DCA 2019). Convinced appellate court to affirm dismissal of defamation action with prejudice based on failure to comply with Section 770.01, Florida Statutes. The appellate court also affirmed the defendant’s entitlement to attorney’s fees pursuant to Florida’s anti-SLAPP statute. Order Dismissing Case with Prejudice
Harrouff v. State, Case No. 4D17-575 (Fla. 4th DCA. Feb. 27, 2017). Successfully obtained access in trial court to discovery material containing interview given by murder defendant to syndicated talk show and denial of defendant's petition for certiorari review in the appellate court. Harrouff v. State Circuit Court Opinion | pdf | Harrouff v. State District Court of Appeal Opinion | pdf
ABC, Inc. v. City of Orlando, Case No. 2016-CA-005528-O, 2016-CA-005536-O (9th Jud. Cir. Fla. Nov. 10, 2016). Secured for a nationwide media consortium access to hundreds of 9-1-1 recordings from inside an Orlando, Florida nightclub during largest mass shooting in U.S. history. ABC, Inc. v. City of Orlando Circuit Court order | pdf
Kronk v. Am. Media, Inc., Case No. 5D15-1529, 2016 WL 3570466 (Fla. 5th DCA June 28, 2016). Convinced appellate court to affirm partial dismissal and partial summary judgment in favor of publisher on privilege and lack of defamatory meaning grounds in a defamation case pertaining to client's reporting on the high profile prosecution of Casey Anthony.
Salvani v. ADVFN PLC, 628 Fed. Appx. 784 (2d Cir. 2015). Convinced Second Circuit Court of Appeal to affirm dismissal of claims under the Securities Exchange Act against a website publisher.
Medytox et al. v. InvestorsHub.com, 152 So.3d 727 (Fla. 4th DCA 2014). Convinced appellate court to affirm dismissal of defamation claim based upon client’s immunity as an internet service provider under the Communications Decency Act, and successfully argued in Florida Supreme Court and United States Supreme Court to deny further review.
Angelastro v. Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 145 So. 3d 838 (Fla. 2d DCA 2014). Obtained affirmance of order granting summary judgment to newspaper defendant in a defamation suit on fair report grounds.
Bainter v. League of Women Voters of Florida, 150 So. 3d 1115 (Fla. 2014). Successfully represented national coalition of media parties before the Florida Supreme Court in friend-of-the-court capacity seeking access to sealed evidence considered by trial court in determining whether state legislature’s redistricting plan was constitutional.
Ocean World, S.A. v. O’Barry (Fla. Cir. Ct. 2007-2014). Successfully defended clients in four defamation and tortious interference cases that arose from clients’ advocacy against importation of wild dolphins into amusement park. During course of proceedings, protected clients from improper financial discovery. O’Barry v. Ocean World, S.A., 17 So. 2d 1286 (Fla. 4th DCA 2009).
Martinick et al v. Media Visions, Case No. 13-61148, 2013 WL 12049083 (S.D. Fla. Nov. 21, 2013). Obtained denial of preliminary injunction and dismissal of complaint alleging unfair competition under the Lanham Act.
Grund v. Am. Media, Inc., 117 So. 3d 425 (Fla. 4th DCA 2013). Convinced appellate court to affirm summary judgment in favor of publisher on privilege grounds in a defamation case pertaining to client’s reporting on the high profile prosecution of Casey Anthony.
Muhammad v. State, 132 So. 3d 176 (Fla. 2013). Successfully defended reporter subpoena in death penalty proceeding.
Stotler v. Orlando Hearst Television Inc., 92 So. 3d 842 (Fla. 5th DCA 2012). Obtained summary judgment on fair reports grounds for statements made against suspect who was never arrested or charged.
Investorshub.com, Inc. v. Mina Mar Group, Inc., Case No. 4:11cv9–RH/WS, 2011 WL 12506239 (N.D. Fla. June 20, 2011). Obtained stipulated final judgment declaring Canadian defamation judgment invalid under the Speech Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 4101–4105, in what is widely considered the first decision of its kind under the Act.
National Collegiate Athletic Association v. Associated Press, 18 So. 3d 1201 (Fla. 1st DCA 2009). Successfully litigated and argued Florida Public Records Act case against Florida State University and the NCAA for access to documents stored on secure NCAA server related to a cheating scandal at the University.
Epstein v. State, 16 So.3d 315 (Fla. 4th DCA 2009). Obtained information contained in federal plea agreement in high profile criminal case under Florida’s Public Records Act.
Jews for Jesus, Inc. v. Rapp, 997 So. 2d 1098 (Fla. 2008). On behalf of a consortium of media companies, convinced Florida Supreme Court that Florida should refuse to recognize the tort of false light invasion of privacy.
Casita, L.P. v. Maplewood Equity Partners, L.P., 960 So. 2d 854 (Fla. 3d DCA 2007). Successfully obtained reversal of trial court’s decision to exercise personal jurisdiction in a defamation and tortious interference case based on non-resident defendants’ alleged statements published outside of the state.
Sun-Sentinel Co. v. U.S. Dep’t of Homeland Security, 489 F.3d 1173 (11th Cir. 2007). Argued and won Freedom of Information Act case to obtain addresses of people requesting FEMA assistance after 2004 hurricanes.
Quade v. Entertainment Events, Inc. (Amer. Arb. Ass'n, Case No. 13 140 Y 00169 07). Won one-million dollar breach-of-contract verdict in arbitration for producer of off-Broadway plays.
Lusczynski v. Tampa Bay Television (Fla. Cir. Ct. 2006). Won jury verdict for Tampa television station and its journalist in defamation and false light case brought by three police officers.
Universal Communications Sys., Inc. v. Turner Broad. Sys., Inc., Case No. No. 05-20047-CIV, 2006 WL 950037 (S.D. Fla. Feb. 10, 2006). Secured fee award, including determination that rate and total number of hours claimed were reasonable, for media organization under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11 in connection with frivolous defamation action brought against CNN and journalist Wolf Blitzer.
Sarasota Herald-Tribune v. State, 916 So. 2d 904 (Fla. 2d DCA 2005). Invalidated trial court order prohibiting publication of juror names and prohibiting photographing jurors as prior restraint.
In re Records of Dep’t of Children and Family Services, 873 So. 2d 506 (Fla. 2d DCA 2004). Obtained access to DCF records for newspaper client and clarified good-cause standard for obtaining confidential DCF records.
Sentinel Communications, Inc. v. Anderson, Case No. 01-48 CA-SW (Fla. 20th Cir. Ct. Jan. 19, 2001). Secured the ability for a nationwide consortium of news organizations to inspect and review the Florida over-vote and under-vote ballots from the 2000 presidential election.