WEST PALM BEACH — A Florida appeals court has denied a writ of certiorari filed by the defendants in the case of a 2018 West Palm Beach City Commission candidate's claim that her political opponent's direct mail piece alleging that the candidate illegally received a second-homestead exemption and a federally funded low-income grant constituted defamation and conspiracy to defame.
WPB Residents for Integrity in Government, Inc., Cornerstone Solutions Florida, LLC and Pradeep Asnani, otherwise known as Rick Asnani, filed a petition for writ of certiorari on Oct. 30 in the Florida Fourth District Court of Appeal regarding the lawsuit filed by former candidate Sharon "Shanon" Materio. According to the District Court filing, the petitioners requested a summary judgment and dismissal of the suit filed by Materio, who lost the 2018 election to Asnani.
They argue that their political speech was protected under Florida’s Anti-SLAPP statute, but a circuit court disagreed and ruled the mailer was not protected under the statute. The petitioners then asked the Appeal Court for a review through a writ of certiorari.
"We dismiss the petition because the petitioners have failed to demonstrate one of the jurisdictional prerequisites for certiorari jurisdiction – irreparable harm. Based on binding Florida Supreme Court precedent, we certify conflict with Gundel v. AV Homes, Inc., 264 So. 3d 304 (Fla. 2d DCA 2019)," the District Court stated in its decision.
"We hold that the petitioners have not made a prima facie showing of irreparable harm sufficient to invoke this court’s certiorari jurisdiction," the court concluded. "The petition for writ of certiorari is dismissed."
WPB Residents is represented by Leonard Feuer of The Leonard Feuer Law Firm PA in West Palm Beach, and Cornerstone Solutions and Pradeep Asnani are represented by William Shepherd, Seth Welner and Jeff Schacknow of The Holland & Knight Law Firm LLP in West Palm Beach. Materio is represented by Joseph Janssen, III, John Siracusa and Mark Keegan of The Janssen, Siracusa & Keegan Law Firm PLLC in West Palm Beach.
District Court of Appeal of the State of Florida Fourth District case number 4D19-967 and 4D19-997