Jeff Greene's libel lawsuit against the Tampa Bay Times scheduled for trial later this month - Florida Politics

Jeff Greene’s libel lawsuit against the Tampa Bay Times scheduled for trial later this month

Although the Miami Herald has settled a libel suit brought against the newspaper by 2010 Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jeff Greene, his suit against the Tampa Bay Times continues.

“We have a trial date set for the end of April,” Times attorney Alison Steele, a partner in the St. Petersburg law firm of Rahdert, Steele, Reynolds & Driscoll, told FloridaPolitics.com on Tuesday.

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Greene filed his suit against the two newspapers for articles that alleged suspect real-estate deals and parties on his yacht in 2010.  The Palm Beach real-estate billionaire is seeking $500 million in damages.

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Valerie Manno-Schurr dismissed the suit in 2012, saying Greene couldn’t “prove the paper acted in malice,” a legal standard in libel actions brought by public figures. Greene would have to show the Times and Herald knew their stories were wrong or that they had a “reckless disregard” of whether their reporting was false or not.

But Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal reversed the judge’s decision and revived the suit in 2014, saying Greene’s claims were “legally sufficient” to move forward.

At issue are two news articles written by St.Petersburg Times reporters that were printed in both the Times and The Herald, as well as one Times editorial. In one article, the Times reported that Greene was party to a real estate deal that left 300 California families homeless and a partner of his in jail. The other left the impression that the boxer Mike Tyson, who was the best man at Greene’s wedding, used drugs while on. Greene’s yacht. The paper later ran a front-page correction clarifying that Tyson said he had not used drugs on the yacht.

The Times editorial urged a federal investigation into Greene’s business activities.

Greene lost the Democratic primary U.S. Senate race against Kendrick Meek by 26 percentage points back in 2010.  Meek went on to finish third in the general election for Senate, behind Republican Marco Rubio and independent candidate Charlie Crist.

He filed the lawsuit shortly after losing to Meek, alleging that the stories and the editorial cost him the election and defamed his reputation.

Greene has resisted the urge to try his hand for a second time at electoral politics, though he did tell a Herald reporter last fall that he had briefly thought about running for president this year.

On Monday, the Miami Herald first reported it reached a settlement with Greene.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.
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