WSHC+B partner and chair of the firm’s appellate practice group, Ed Guedes, represented his client in an appeal involving an issue of first impression in Florida. His client sued the Town of Indian River Shores in the Nineteenth Circuit Court after the resident and former pension board member got into a dispute with the town council over his vote to raise the pension return rate. A town council member demanded he resign and filed two ethics complaints against him which led to him being voted out as a union official. In turn, he sued the Town for declaratory relief, defamation, malicious prosecution, and tortious interference.
In the lower court, the Town of Indian River Shores invoked Florida’s Anti-SLAPP statute, pursuant to which a defendant can file a motion to dismiss or for summary judgment, which must be heard by the court “at the earliest possible time.” The provision was created with the intention to prohibit lawsuits brought against individuals for exercising their right of free speech in connection with a public issue or their rights to peacefully assemble.
This initially led to Ed’s client’s lawsuit being dismissed, but Fourth District Court of Appeal Judges Jeffrey T. Kuntz and Dorian K. Damoorgian held, “Crosby brought the claim against a governmental entity, the Town. The Circuit Court, therefore, erred when it allowed a governmental entity to rely on Florida’s Anti-SLAPP statute as the ground for granting its motion to dismiss. So we must reverse the circuit court’s dismissal with prejudice based on the Anti-SLAPP statute. Florida’s Anti-SLAPP statute protects the people, not the government.”
A Fellow of the prestigious American Academy of Appellate Lawyers and ranked by Chambers USA in appellate law, Ed Guedes is widely known for his representation of business and government clients in high-stakes appeals. He has litigated dozens of appeals before the Florida Supreme Court, Florida’s district courts of appeal and the U.S. Courts of Appeals in a wide variety of matters.
Daily Business Review (March 31, 2023) ‘Writing on a Blank Slate’: Florida Attorney Wins Anti- SLAPP Appeal in Case with No Precedent, Case Law