When a public figure’s reputation is tarnished, their decision regarding whether to give a press conference about the scandal may or may not be paired with a defamation lawsuit. In the case of Genesis Davila, the 24-year-old beauty pageant contestant chose to go with both the lawsuit and the press conference.
Davila was awarded the coveted title of Miss Florida USA 2017, a position that comes with both a crown and an opportunity to compete in the pageant to become Miss USA.
But Davila was suddenly stripped of her crown following allegations that she used professional hair and makeup stylists who were not affiliated with the pageant, which is strictly prohibited by the rules of the pageant. Her crown and title were given instead to her runner-up, Linette De Los Santos.
Davila has responded by filing a defamation lawsuit that is asking for $15 million in damages, as well as an immediate injunction to return the crown and title to Davila.
Grant Gravitt, the pageant’s executive producer, claims there is plenty of evidence, as well as eye-witness accounts that support their decision to crown a new Miss Florida USA 2017 on the grounds that Davila allegedly used professional stylists to achieve the look that won her the crown. Gravitt added that the pageant has a zero-tolerance policy for contestants who don’t follow the rules.
In order to support their allegations, Gravitt points to photos posted to Davila’s Instagram account that show her makeup getting applied by a professional stylist. Richard Wolfe, who is representing Davila in the defamation lawsuit, says the photos were from a photo shoot and were posted a week before the beauty pageant.
In orchestrating Davila’s side of the lawsuit, Wolfe suggested Davila’s loss of the crown may have had to do with more than just who applied her makeup. Before accusing her of breaking the pageant’s rules to gain an unfair advantage, Gavitt allegedly questioned Davila about her citizenship status. Davila is originally from Puerto Rico but now lives in Miami Beach, which she represented in the Miss Florida USA pageant.
Public figures have a higher burden of proof to bear than private citizens when filing a claim for defamation. This is because the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution was designed to encourage free and open discussion of all public figures, with the belief that such a system is in the best interests of the public. Because Davila was representing her town and is looking to go on to represent her state in the national beauty pageant, she fulfills the definition of a public figure, and as a result, she must bear the higher burden of proof in her lawsuit.
Under the law, public figures must be able to prove that the people or entities that made the allegedly defamatory statements knew they were false at the time they made them and that they made them with the intention of causing injury to the plaintiff. They must also be able to prove that the statements in question had a measurable impact on their career or business.
Our Chicago libel and slander lawyers concentrate in this area of the law. We have defended or prosecuted a number of defamation and libel cases, including cases representing a consumer sued by a large luxury used car dealer in federal court for hundreds of negative internet reviews and videos which resulted in substantial media coverage of the suit; one of Loyola University’s largest contributors when the head basketball coach sued him for libel after he was fired; and a lawyer who was falsely accused of committing fraud with the false allegation published to the Dean of the University of Illinois School of Law, where the lawyer attended law school and the President of the University of Illinois. One of our partners also participated in representing a high profile athlete against a well-known radio shock jock.
Our Chicago defamation attorneys defend individuals’ First Amendment and free speech rights to post on Facebook, Yelp and other websites information that criticizes businesses and addresses matters of public concern. Our Chicago Cybersquatting attorneys also represent and prosecute claims on behalf of businesses throughout the Chicago area including in Rockford and Orland Park who have been unfairly and falsely criticized by consumers and competitors in defamatory publications in the online and offline media. We have successfully represented businesses who have been the victim of competitors setting up false rating sites and pretend consumer rating sites that are simply forums to falsely bash or business clients. We have also represented and defended consumers First Amendment and free speech rights to criticize businesses who are guilty of consumer fraud and false advertising.
Super Lawyers named Chicago and Oak Brook business trial attorney Peter Lubin a Super Lawyer in the Categories of Class Action, Business Litigation, and Consumer Rights Litigation. Lubin Austermuehle’s Oak Brook and Chicago business trial lawyers have over a quarter of a century of experience in litigating complex class action, consumer rights, and business and commercial litigation disputes. We handle emergency business lawsuits involving injunctions, and TROS, defamation, libel, and covenant not to compete, franchise, distributor and dealer wrongful termination and trade secret lawsuits and many different kinds of business disputes involving shareholders, partnerships, closely held businesses and employee breaches of fiduciary duty. We also assist businesses and business owners who are victims of fraud or defamatory attacks on their business and reputations.
Lubin Austermuehle’s DuPage County defamation and slander lawyers near Schaumburg and Hinsdale have more than two and half decades of experience helping business clients unravel the complexities of Illinois and out-of-state business laws. Our Chicago business, commercial, class-action, and consumer litigation lawyers represent individuals, family businesses and enterprises of all sizes in a variety of legal disputes, including disputes among partners and shareholders as well as lawsuits between businesses and consumer rights, auto fraud, and wage claim individual and class action cases. In every case, our goal is to resolve disputes as quickly and successfully as possible, helping business clients protect their investments and get back to business as usual. From offices in Oak Brook, near Naperville, Park Ridge, and Des Plaines, we serve clients throughout Illinois and the Midwest.
If you are the victim of a defamatory attack on your business or a consumer who has been sued to stop you from posting criticism of a business online at Yelp or anywhere else, contact one of our Oak Brook and Chicago defamation lawyers for a free consultation at 630-333-0333 or online by filling out our contact us form.