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Chef files lawsuit claiming defamation

There are many obvious potential threats to the health of a business. Fires and floods can serve to shutter doors, perhaps permanently. Severe financial loss due to malfeasance may also cause insurmountable setbacks. But what about words? Words that are used to besmirch a business, or the proprietors of a business, can prove just as damaging as any flood, fire or theft. A damaged reputation can be more difficult to repair than a building or a bank account.

A contestant on "Top Chef" is currently seeking $150,000 for what he claims was defamation. Jeffrey McInnis says that quotes from his ex-wife that were printed in the Miami Herald have harmed his business prospects. The quotes in question came out in print in October 2013. Mr. McInnis’s ex-wife made accusations that the chef bullied her into a divorce and abandoned her and their 2-year-old daughter. She also claimed that upon departing, he took all of the funds out of their bank account.

When the statement came out, Mr. McInnis responded by saying that he was providing financial support to his ex-wife and that the accusation of child abandonment was false.

At present, Mr. McInnis says that what was written in the paper has negatively impacted his business, his prospects for business, his community standing and his reputation. As such, he has filed a federal complaint against the Miami Herald, McClatchy Newspapers and McClatchy Management Services.

In today’s world, your name can be your brand. You may pay a heavy price should someone choose to cast aspersions on either your good name or on the name of the business that you have worked so hard to build. Such defamatory remarks may come as the result of personal or business disputes.

Therefore, if you are ever the target of damaging rhetoric, you have a reason to consider legal action against those responsible. A Florida business litigation attorney could help you form an appropriate legal response in seeking damages.

Source: Courthouse News Service, “Celebrity Chef Says the Herald Defamed Him,” Lorraine Baily, Oct. 20, 2014

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