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Law School Case Brief

Hood v. Connors - 419 So. 2d 742 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1982)

Rule:

Slander "per se" is actionable on its face, but slander "per quod" requires additional explanation of the words used to show they have a defamatory meaning or that the person defamed is the plaintiff. The primary difference between them is that for per se actions general damages will be presumed, but for per quod actions the plaintiff must allege and prove special damages.

Facts:

Plaintiff Hood filed a complaint for slander after defendant Connors, during a campaign for elective office, accused Hood of using public funds to pave parking lots for a private business and to pave the streets of a subdivision. The trial court dismissed a count that alleged slander per se because it determined that the remarks were slander per quod. The court said that the defamatory character of the remarks required some explanation of the circumstances during which they were made and the identity and status of Hood. Plaintiff Hood sought appellate review of the dismissal.

Issue:

Does Hood's complaint state a cause of action for slander per se?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The court held that Hood stated a cause of action for slander per se. The court reasoned that the substance of the slander - lack of honesty and abuse of public trust - was obvious. The court noted that the circumstances, time, and place of the defamatory statement and the situation of the person defamed always had to be considered in a slander case. The court found that the allegations were sufficient to charge actual malice and to support a demand for punitive damages.

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