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Flickr/Steven Martin/Florida Supreme Court Building
florida-supreme-court-2.jpg
Flickr/Steven Martin/Florida Supreme Court Building
USA News

Florida Supreme Court declines case of pastor claiming local news defamed him

by Premier Journalist

A pastor in Miami Gardens lost his case before the Florida Supreme Court regarding claims that a local news station defamed him.

Eric Readon is the pastor of New Beginning Missionary Baptist Church, based in Miami Gardens, Florida. Readon filed a lawsuit against local station WPLG and its news station Local 10 News in 2017, claiming that the pastor, who is not paid by the church, makes his living through property management and real estate swaps. In some of these cases, victims were scammed or not fully compensated for their business dealings with Readon.

The Miami Daily Tribune reports that "several people told Local 10 News that they gave Readon cash deposits to rent homes and buy cars. They said they even loaned him cash for church events, and when things fell through and they demanded refunds, Readon called them and said, 'You think you can come after me? You don't know who you are dealing with'".

When Local 10 News covered these questionable business dealings, Readon decided to sue WPLG for 12 million dollars, claiming defamation. Later amendments would increase the amount, rising eventually to around 50 million.

The lawsuit was dismissed with prejudice from the court in 2020, with the judge ruling that the report in question contained "true facts." Readon appealed the ruling, bringing it before the state Supreme Court.

The court declined the case and ruled that Readon will need to pay $70,000 in damages to WPLG to cover an estimated 250 hours of lawyer time.

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