Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Florida man cuts off legs of spearfisher with his boat propeller, then sues for defamation after he is convicted of violating boat safety code

This defamation lawsuit to stifle free speech is shocking in its abusiveness. This Nocosia character is much nastier than the folks who are suing me in an effort to shut down this blog. My case is now in the Court of Appeal.

Click HERE to see CMLP article.

Roger Nicosia
Lisa Rollins, Christopher Bartlett, John Etzler, Philip A. Grogan d/b/a Publications

Threat Type: Lawsuit
Date: 01/10/2011
Location: Florida
Legal Claims: Defamation; Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress; Tortious Interference

On January 9, 2009, Plaintiff Roger Nicosia navigated his boat into a dive area and ran over diver Robert Murphy (“Murphy”). The boat’s propellers sliced through Murphy’s legs, resulting in amputation of both legs below the knee. The collision was so violent that, when explaining the events once he reached shore, Nicosia stated that his boat had a “big, big vibration” when traveling above 8 knots on the way to shore because of presumed propeller damage.

Understandably, the gruesome incident received widespread attention in the news media, and, as alleged in the Complaint, on Internet discussion forums such as “Spearboard,” which is a discussion board (or “forum”) dedicated to spearfishing and diving enthusiasts. Within hours of the tragedy, the spearfishing community, of which Murphy was and is a member, began discussing the incident and praying for Murphy via Spearboard. In the months leading up to the State of Florida charging Nicosia with violating navigation rules, as well as in the months during the trial, the media, including discussion forums such as Spearboard, continued to report on and debate the incident.

Nicosia’s actions that day resulted in Martin County Judge Kathleen Roberts convicting him of violating Florida’s boating navigation rules resulting in a boating accident, a second degree misdemeanor.On August 18, 2010, the day that Judge Roberts delivered her verdict, a public outcry ensued based on the farcical punishment allowed under the statute that Nicosia violated.

As one commentator (who is not a Defendant in this case) wryly stated a few days after the verdict, the monetary punishment amounted to “$125.00 a leg.” Other commentators, including the Defendants in this case, also exercised their First Amendment right to comment on this matter of public importance. In response, they have been sued in a troublingly blatant attempt to shut them up. By burdening Defendants with the monetary and emotional expense of litigation, Nicosia is engaging in the classic SLAPP tactic to silence protected speech.

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