Defamation claims have a prominent place in construction law. Whenever you have a large group of construction industry professionals working together on a complex project, there will likely be some discord, conflicting opinions or interests, and, when things go awry, even some finger pointing. As Ft. Myers construction lawyers, we are here to help you with any of your legal needs including assistance with a defamation claim.
In the following four-part article, we first discussed what defamation is defined as in the State of Florida. In the second and third section, we will cover some situations in which contractors may or may not be protected from defamation claims. In the final section, we will discuss some in-depth tips to avoid defamation claims filed against you.
The Importance of Qualified Privilege
There are certain circumstances when a contractor is qualified to divulge information that could be considered defamatory to another party. The key is that the contractor needs to have a common interest shared with the recipient of this information. Although common interest is often considered a broad term in defamation claims, a common interest means that the two parties have the same objective or interest in the information being presented and the two parties are working together towards a common goal.
An Example of Protected Defamation
This would typically mean when an architect or contractor shares defamatory information to the owner or another primary member of the project about another construction industry professional’s poor quality of work pertaining to the project. For example, if a contractor is hired onto a job to replace another contractor midway through a project, it would not be considered defamation for that contractor to share information with the owner about the poor quality of work performed by the previous contractor and why it needs to be corrected. As long as the statement was related to the project, a contractor or architect may feel obligated to explain to the owner why the project is experiencing delays, needs to be modified, or new materials need to be installed. Because the contractor or architect is working with the owner on the common interest of completing the project, this information is helpful to the owner in regard to completing the project effectively and efficiently.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.