Federal Judge Upheld Athelete Jameis Winston’s Defamation Claim
A Federal Judge recently upheld Jameis Winston’s defamation claim, but dismisses his claim of tortious interference against former classmate Erica Kinsman. Jameis Winston, star football player and alum of Florida State University was accused of raping former classmate Erica Kinsman in December of 2012. Following these accusations is a media storm stuck on a he-said she-said account of what occurred in December of 2012.
Former Classmate Accuses Jameis Winston of Rape in 2012
After Kinsman initially reported the rape, Florida State Attorney Willie Meggs decided against criminal charges to Winston due to a lack of evidence. Winston was also cleared any violations of Florida State University’s conduct code, continuously explaining his encounter with Kinsman as consensual. Following these decisions Kinsman served Winston with a civil suit alleging sexual battery, assault, false imprisonment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress occurring because of forcible rape in April of 2015.
This past May, Winston fired back with a suit of his own, suing accuser Erica Kinsman for defamation, defamation per se, and tortious interference. Winston’s claims are based on the damage done to his reputation because of the negative publicity brought upon by Erica Kinsman. Kinsman soon motioned to dismiss Winston’s charges, as well as strike down another motion for moving the legal venue to a different district in Florida. However, a Federal Judge has decided to uphold Winston’s claims to defamation, but dismiss tortious interference claiming that the tortious interference occurred because of said defamatory statements.
Defamation and the Law
Defamatory statements are indicated in four ways. In this case, these statements are defamation because Winston claims that the statements hurt him in his business. Winston claims that because of the defamatory statements made by Erica Kinsman he suffered prospective business damages, essentially explaining that the negativity surrounding his name hurt his NFL drafting, especially in the first round.
Law suits that arise from exposing and publishing false statements to harm another person are sensitive in nature, because they deal with a slippery slope that includes debates around freedom of speech. Not to mention, it can be difficult to determine the difference between an opinion and a statement of fact, a difference that is vital to any defamation case. In Winston’s case, false accusation of rape, and a haunting reputation as a rapist and an abuser can lead to significant losses in future relationships and employment endeavors.
Daniel Szalkiewicz and Associates P.C. is increasingly interested in defamation cases, working to restore reputations for those who have suffered at the hands of false, defamatory statements.