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DEFAMATION - PENSACOLA MOTOR SALES, INC. V. DAPHNE AUTOMOTIVE, 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).
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