NOTICE: THIS OPINION IS SUBJECT TO REVISION OR WITHDRAWAL
UNTIL TIME EXPIRES FOR REHEARING OR FURTHER APPELLATE
REVIEW AND, IF FILED, DETERMINED
County Civil Court: STANDARD OF
REVIEW – non-jury trial – defamation - trial court’s findings are clothed with
a presumption of correctness and these findings will not be disturbed unless
clearly erroneous – Appellant unable to demonstrate findings are clearly erroneous
and judgment is supported by competent substantial evidence – courts will not
re-try cases on appeal – statements in petition for injunction were privileged
and could not support defamation claim – Final Judgment affirmed. Alexeev
v. Johnson, Appeal No.
IN THE CIRCUIT COURT FOR THE SIXTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
vs. Appeal No. 07-0015AP-88A
WENDY CRANE JOHNSON,
Appellant, pro se
Patricia Fields Anderson, Esquire
Attorney for Appellee
ORDER AND OPINION
THIS CAUSE came before the Court on appeal, filed by Karen Alexeev (Alexeev), from the Final Judgment for Defendant, entered March 2, 2007, in favor of Wendy Crane Johnson (Johnson). Upon review of the briefs, the record and being otherwise fully advised, the Court affirms the trial court’s ruling as set forth below.
On December 12, 2006, Alexeev filed a Statement of Claim against Johnson seeking damages for defamation, abuse of process, and malicious prosecution as a result of Johnson filing a Petition for Injunction for Protection Against Repeat Violence against Alexeev in a separate case. The record shows that Johnson owns Motion Sports Management, a company that stages local running races. Alexeev, an ardent runner, and Johnson had several negative encounters at races which resulted in Johnson filing the Petition for Injunction, for the primary purpose of keeping Alexeev from participating in running events organized by Johnson’s company. Johnson testified that she has a genuine fear of Alexeev.
At the conclusion of the non-jury trial, the trial court entered Final Judgment for Defendant. The trial court found that: “Although Defendant’s assertions in support of a requested Injunction for Protection Against Repeat Violence were legally insufficient, the allegations, nonetheless, were true.” The trial court concluded that Johnson did not abuse process of law, nor maliciously prosecute Alexeev. The trial court also found that Alexeev failed to prove her defamation claim.
argues that the trial court erred in granting Final Judgment in favor of
Johnson. In reviewing Alexeev’s
arguments, this Court must determine if the Final Judgment is supported by
competent substantial evidence. See Shaw v. Shaw, 334 So.2d 13, 16 (
The Court finds that Johnson is not
able to overcome the presumption of correctness afforded the trial court’s
ruling and the Final Judgment is supported by competent substantial
evidence. Johnson is essentially
rearguing her case before this Court.
However, appellate courts will not retry cases on appeal. See Urban v. City of
Further, as pointed out by the trial
court, the allegations made by Johnson in her Petition for Injunction, around
which Alexeev’s case was centered, are privileged. See Fridovich v. Fridovich, 598
So.2d 65, 66 (
The law in
Hence, even if it could be said that Johnson’s statements in her Petition for Injunction were patently false, Alexeev could not maintain a cause of action for defamation.
Therefore, it is,
ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that the Final Judgment for Defendant is affirmed.
AND ORDERED in Chambers, at
R. TIMOTHY PETERS
Circuit Judge, Appellate Division
GEORGE M. JIROTKA CYNTHIA
Circuit Judge, Appellate Division Circuit Judge, Appellate Division
Copies furnished to:
Honorable Walt Fullerton
County Court Judge
Patricia Fields Anderson, Esquire
 The trial court declined to enter a temporary injunction and the Petition was later dismissed when Johnson failed to appear for the scheduled return hearing.