A jury awarded Katherine Murphy, former principal at the Aventura City of Excellence school (ACES), $155 million after she proved that a school executive, Eric Soroka, spread false rumors, which caused her termination. This is a summary of the workplace defamation case.
Workplace Defamation Case Study: Principal v. Administrator
According to the South Florida Business Journal, school and city manager, Eric Soroka, and former principal, Katherine Murphy, had a publicly contentious relationship. In 2006, Soroka allegedly played an instrumental roll in ousting Murphy as a school executive, for supposed financial trickery involving a trip to Switzerland. For her part, Murphy swears she paid for the trip and simply reimbursed for legitimate expenses.
To make matters murkier, Soroka supposedly a) called Murphy a “slut” as retribution for talking to the press without his permission and b) tried to prevent Murphy from communicating with elected officials.
In retaliation, Murphy filed a workplace defamation claim against Soroka. She asked for a cool $155 million as restitution for distress, a damaged reputation, and potential lost income.
And guess what? She won!
Soroka is now filing an appeal. Specifically, he’s claiming that the damages awarded were duplicative and should be reconsidered. “Mr. Soroka’s position is that he is entitled to a judgment in his favor with respect to all claims asserted against him. The jury verdict is contrary to the evidence presented at trial and we are confident that Mr. Soroka’s motion will dispose of the lawsuit,” Soroka’s lawyer said in a statement released to the press.
How To Win A Workplace Defamation Case
Workplace defamation lawsuits follow the same standards as other slander and libel lawsuits. The plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s statements:
- Caused harm;
- Are false;
- Were published with, at the very least, reckless disregard for the truth.