Sunday, May 20, 2018
News Roundup

Property owner claims defamation in suit against Times

The owner of the Hernando County property where Mud on the Barbee, a mud-bogging and music event, had been planned has filed a lawsuit against the Tampa Bay Times, claiming defamation.

Thomas Malouf says in the suit, filed in Pinellas Circuit Court, that the Times and two of its reporters "prepared and published false statements of fact about the plaintiff that tended to expose Malouf to hatred, ridicule and/or contempt that were injurious to his business reputation as a real estate developer."

Among several claims is that the Times incorrectly described a $500 payment Malouf agreed to make when he settled his case with Hernando County government after he was issued four citations for unpermitted work at the site, off Ponce de Leon Boulevard north of Brooksville, where Mike Barbee was planning to hold the event.

Malouf's attorney called the payment "an administrative charge," not a fine, and the Times published a correction regarding that term of the agreement. However, the lawsuit says the correction "was ineffective as the damage to Malouf's reputation had already been done."

Times attorney Alison Steele said the lawsuit is without merit.

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