Tampa man agrees to dismiss defamation case against <i>Times</i>

Published Jan. 13, 2016

BROOKSVILLE — The Tampa man who owns property near Brooksville that had been the proposed site of a mud-bogging and music event has dismissed his defamation lawsuit against the Tampa Bay Times.

The dismissal brings the case to a final conclusion. Each side agreed to pay its own legal expenses.

"It was a friendly resolution to the case," said Alison Steele, attorney for the Times. "We ceremonially paid Mr. Malouf a dollar."

Thomas Malouf filed the suit against the Times and two of its reporters in Pinellas County in 2014 based on a news story in June reporting on Malouf's settlement of a code citation enforcement case with Hernando County. The county claimed work had been done on his property, off Ponce de Leon Boulevard north of Brooksville, without necessary permits. Entrepreneur Mike Barbee was planning to hold an event called Mud on the Barbee there that summer.

As part of the settlement with the county, Malouf agreed to pay "administrative and court costs" of $500. The Times initially described the payment differently but corrected it.

Malouf had not been asked to comment for that story and said the Times should contact people in his position before publication.

"I was happy we could resolve the suit on mutually agreeable terms," Malouf said. "The stories reported upset me greatly and caused a great deal of stress for me."