Tags: tweet | lawsuit | trayvon martin | george zimmerman

Legal Expert Coffey: Suit Over Spike Lee Tweet Won't Fly in Fla.

Thursday, 14 Nov 2013 05:57 PM

The family suing filmmaker Spike Lee for mistakenly retweeting their address as the home of George Zimmerman, who killed Trayvon Martin, may have no luck in the Florida courts, says top legal analyst Kendall Coffey.

"People who value our laws like to say that for every wrong there must be a remedy … One might think that there should be some kind of remedy if indeed they suffered … a firestorm of threats and abuse," Coffey told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.

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"But a few years back the Supreme Court of Florida decided that the kind of claim for what they call violation of privacy — putting somebody or casting somebody in a false light through publicity that's damaging — that by itself is no longer, in the state of Florida, a valid basis to bring a claim for damages."

Lee, director of "Do the Right Thing" and "Malcolm X," has asked a federal judge to toss a lawsuit filed by Elaine and David McClain who say that retweeting their address as the home of George Zimmerman subjected them to death threats, anxiety and fear.

Lee's attorneys argued the lawsuit should be dismissed since the McClains reached a $10,000 settlement with Lee last year, but the couple argues they continue to suffer mental anguish and distress.

"What these individuals would have to claim is either something called intentional infliction of emotional distress," said Coffey, a founding member of Coffey Burlington, a Miami-based law firm.

"It's hard to think they can show enough intentionality … I'm not sure they're going to get to first base or certainly not to second base in terms of a lawsuit given the decision the Supreme Court of Florida made, which actually gives less protection for individuals whose privacy rights are invaded and are wrongly subjected to negative publicity."

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