There’s a doozie of an online defamation lawsuit currently working its way through the Florida courts. Dr. Robert Nicosia is facing both criminal and civil suits due to 2009 boating accident. To make matters more complicated, Nicosia has also filed a suit against boating accident witness, Lisa Rollins, which alleges online defamation. Rollins has also filed a countersuit against Nicosia, which accuses the doctor of several things including, “stifling debate”.
The catalytic incident occurred one afternoon in 2009 when Dr. Nicosia was returning to St. Lucie Inlet after a fishing trip. Rollins and Murphy happened to be diving in the same vicinity. Catastrophe struck when Murphy got caught in the boat’s machinations. The accident resulted the amputation of both Murphy’s legs.
What occurred directly after the collision has been a topic of much debate in the ensuing lawsuits. The divers and their supporters insist that Dr. Nicosia was driving recklessly and did not immediately jump to the aid of Murphy upon realizing the diver had been injured. Nicosia, however, has testified that the divers did not have proper diving flags displayed and cites that as the cause of the horrible accident.
Many Palm Beach locals convened on a popular area website, spearboard.com, where Rollins and three other users posted an online petition calling for the removal of Dr. Nicosia’s medical license. Among other accusations, the petition claimed the doctor had not followed the Hippocratic Oath by failing to immediately tend to Murphy.
Faced with criminal charges, Dr. Nicosia decided to file a civil defamation lawsuit against his Internet detractors. The suit asserted that Nicosia’s reputation as a doctor was badly damaged because of the online attacks. Appalled by Nicosia’s Internet defamation lawsuit, Rollins decided to submit a counter-suit which accuses the doctor of inhibiting public debate and “witness tampering”.
Since United States defamation law differentiates between public and private Citizens, Rollins’ attorneys plan to propose that due to the notoriety from the case, Dr. Nicosia should be considered a public figure and therefore, in the absence of actual malice, does not have enough evidence for a defamation trial.
Without being privy to all the evidence in the case, it would be foolish to wager a guess as to who will be left standing. Presently, however, Rollins, Murphy and Nicosia are claiming emotional distress and all parties seem confident in their claims.
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