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What is slander of title?  

Slander of title occurs when an individual publishes false statements about the title to property (or the plaintiff’s ownership interest) under circumstances that would lead one to reasonably foresee that a third party would be deterred from purchasing or leasing the property. Slander of title is distinguishable from trade libel, a claim based on publishing false statements about the quality of the plaintiff’s property. Despite the terms “slander” and “libel,” the statements under either claim may be written or made orally. Courts may also refer to slander of title as “injurious falsehood” or “disparagement of title.” 

Though most claimants base slander of title actions on written, recorded instruments, slander of title may consist of a word-of-mouth statement. In the construction law setting, lienors should be aware that improper liens, whether fraudulent or not, can give rise to slander of title claims. 

Need help with a slander of title issue? Schedule your consultation today with a top business litigation attorney.  

What legal issues typically arise related to slander of title?  

The following disputes are among the most common to slander of title:  

  • Placing an improper or fraudulent mechanics’ lien on property; 
  • Claiming a lease on a property, thereby preventing its lease or sale to another; 
  • Refusing to release a financing agreement concerning realty, which is known to be void; 
  • Forbidding an auction sale of property on the ground that the person offering it has no right to sell it; and  
  • The filing or recording of a false instrument purporting to affect the title to a property. 

What are relevant laws related to slander of title in Florida? 

Both statutory law and common law govern slander of title claims. Statutorily, Subsection 95.11(4)(g) of the Florida Statutes governs how soon a claimant may bring a slander of title action.  

In Florida, courts have recognized claims for slander of title in many contexts. This case law has been critical in establishing what must be proven by the plaintiff and what defenses are available to the defendant in a slander of title case. For example, in Old Plantation Corp. v. Maule Indus. Inc., the Florida Supreme Court ruled that the statute of limitations applicable to slander and libel actions are to be used in a slander of title case as opposed to the statute of limitations available for damage to real property. 68 So. 2d 180 (Fla. 1953). 

What is required to prove a case of slander of title in Florida? 

The elements of a slander of title claim are: 

  • The defendant communicated to a third person; 
  • A statement disparaging the plaintiff’s title; 
  • The statement is untrue; and 
  • The defendant’s communication caused the plaintiff to suffer actual damages. 

When a set of facts is appropriate to meet the requirements of slander of title, there are many paths a claimant may take. We are value-based attorneys at Jimerson Birr, which means we look at each action with our clients from the point of view of costs and benefits while reducing liability. Then, based on our client’s objectives, we chart a path forward to seek appropriate remedies, such as:  

  • Compensatory and punitive damages  
  • Injunctions 

To see what actions may be available for your unique situation, please contact our office to set up your initial consultation. 

What are common defenses to slander of title in Florida? 

The primary defenses to slander of title in Florida include:  

  • Lack of malice: Punitive damages may only be awarded in a slander of title claim if there was actual malice. A defendant may limit their liability by demonstrating a lack of malice. 
  • No damages: The defendant may claim the plaintiff suffered no damages due to their disparagement. 
  • Statute of limitations: The defendant may argue that the statute of limitations bars the plaintiff’s claim.  
  • Truthfulness: Though the falsity of the statement in question is part of the plaintiff’s prima facie case, the defendant may present evidence demonstrating that the statement is true or cannot be proven objectively false. 

When defending against a slander of title claim in Florida, one core strategy is to focus on disproving the elements of falsity or damages by providing evidence of the statement’s truthfulness or the non-compensable nature of the plaintiff’s claimed damages. Such evidence includes presenting witness testimony or critical documents.  

To see what defenses may be available for your unique situation, please contact our office to set up your initial consultation. 

Have more questions about a slander of title-related situation?  

Crucially, this overview of slander of title does not begin to cover all the laws implicated by this issue or the factors that may compel the application of such laws. Every case is unique, and the laws can produce different outcomes depending on the individual circumstances. 

Jimerson Birr attorneys guide our clients to help make informed decisions while ensuring their rights are respected and protected. Our lawyers are highly trained and experienced in the nuances of the law, so they can accurately interpret statutes and case law and holistically prepare individuals or companies for their legal endeavors. Through this intense personal investment and advocacy, our lawyers will help resolve the issue’s complicated legal problems efficiently and effectively. 

Having a Jimerson Birr attorney on your side means securing a team of seasoned, multi-dimensional, cross-functional legal professionals. Whether it is a transaction, an operational issue, a regulatory challenge, or a contested legal predicament that may require court intervention, we remain a tireless advocate every step of the way. Being a value-added law firm means putting the client at the forefront of everything we do. We use our experience to help our clients navigate even the most complex problems and come out the other side triumphant. 

If you want to understand your case, the merits of your claim or defense, potential monetary awards, or the amount of exposure you face, you should speak with a qualified Jimerson Birr lawyer. Our experienced team of attorneys is here to help. Call Jimerson Birr at (904) 389-0050 or use the contact form to set up a consultation. 

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