DEFAMATION - PENSACOLA MOTOR SALES, INC. V. DAPHNE AUTOMOTIVE, LLC
Cunningham Bounds LLC
Pensacola Motor Sales, Inc. v. Daphne Automotive, LLC, [Ms. 1110840, Dec. 6, 2013] ___ So. 3d ___ (Ala. 2013). The Supreme Court
upholds the Mobile circuit court's $7.5 million judgment against Pensacola
Motor Sales d/b/a Bob Tyler Toyota for its slanderous comments regarding
Daphne Automotive d/b/a Eastern Shore Toyota. The owner of Eastern Shore
Toyota was born in Iran, and personnel at Bob Tyler Toyota told customers
not to go to Eastern Shore Toyota because the owner, Shawn Esfahani, "was
'funneling money back over there to his family to help fund terrorists.'"
Bob Tyler Toyota personnel also referred to Eastern Shore Toyota as "Taliban
Toyota." The Supreme Court first rejects three evidentiary arguments
as either being not preserved or as being cumulative evidence. The Court
then rejects numerous attacks on the plaintiff's expert testimony
on damages as being insufficient to demonstrate error by the trial court.
Finally, the Court rejects arguments that the compensatory damages and
the punitive damages were excessive. "The Court cannot fathom a worse
trifecta of crimes of which to accuse a businessman and his business than
treason and funding terrorism and the murder of American soldiers, particularly
considering Esfahani's national origin, the demographic makeup of
the vehicle market there and the wars in the Middle East" (quoting
the trial court order).