Free Speech? Miami Realtor/Blogger sued by developer for $25Million

It was reported by the Miami Herald that a local Realtor blogger is being sued by a developer who is not pleased that the blogger, Lucas Lachuga, remarked that the development was “doomed” on a January 10th post.

”Like any other blog out there, it’s a collection of my unbiased opinions and thoughts,” he said. “I have buyers all over the world who go to my blog. They know I’m not going to sugarcoat the market.”

Realtor Lucas Lachuga’s Blog is called Miami Condo Investments.

This is the kind of case attorneys probably would watch very closely.

36 thoughts on “Free Speech? Miami Realtor/Blogger sued by developer for $25Million

  1. From the Miami Herald-

    Robert Jarvis, a constitutional law and ethics professor at Nova Southeastern University, who isn’t involved in the case, said he doubts Lechuga will be held liable for defaming Hollo.

    ”Courts understand [blogs] are written in unedited, unvetted fashion,” Jarvis said. “There’s a lot of hyperbole. That’s why it’s so difficult to win defamation lawsuits.”

  2. Blogs are opinions based on our expertise in the market. Although I found some of the statements in his blog to be harsh at worst, “In my opinion” this is a ludacris lawsuit:)…
    My favorite part (sarcasm) was the broker stating that they will be talking to their 800 agents about what they can and can not post in their blogs….that will just hurt the consumer and is one of the reasons I opened my own brokerage.

  3. I don’t know. If he claimed there was a prior bankruptcy, and there wasn’t, that could lead to exposure.

    I’ve never heard of a “limited public figure” as claimed by the expert. There might be such a concept, but that seems like a real stretch. Just what do you have to do to become a limited public figure?

  4. Proof of damages does seem to be an issue, and then there’s collection.

    BTW, I looked at the concept of limited public figure, and the Internet sites all referenced the woman who tried to organize a boycott of advertisers on the Married With Children show. She apparently got tired of the jokes about her, and sued (and lost). Basically she brought the jokes upon herself by organizing a boycott. This seems quite a bit different, but as mentioned I’m not at all familiar with the concept.

    As an aside, I remember seeing that woman on one of the morning network news shows. She told the male host one of the jokes from the show and it was all he could do to keep from laughing. She probably helped the show more than hurt it.

  5. Since, we are talking about lawsuits:

    FBI launches Subprime probe
    Note: You need an online subscription of WSJ to view this article.

    Some interesting notes in this article:

    “The FBI’s investigations represent an added dimension to the bureau’s decade-long focus on mortgage fraud, which spiked during the housing boom. For years, the FBI has targeted fraud cases involving real-estate agents, appraisers and fake buyers. More recently, FBI officials and local prosecutors have set up teams to investigate mortgage fraud in several states where they have noted high fraud activity, including California, Texas, Florida and Arizona, all of which saw fast-growing rates of home-value appreciation.”

    “Yesterday, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. disclosed in regulatory filings that they had received requests for information from government and regulatory agencies related to subprime loans, but the companies didn’t identify the agencies. The companies declined to comment further.”

  6. BTW:, Tim, I think this thread is meant to scare people like you, who blog about bubbles, to stop doing it :). I would say these are scare tactics from people who don’t want housing to go down and who don’t want the general public to know bad things about housing, lest they panic and all hell breaks loose here.

  7. Kary,

    There’s a very famous case where the ruling was decided based on the publicity of the case itself conveying “a public character” to the private defendent. Apparently “public” entities and people don’t enjoy the same rights as private citizens.

  8. Well politicians, actors and such have been held to be public figures, and thus supposed to have a tougher skin for these sorts of things. So it’s basically harder for them to prove a case. I was familiar with that, but not this “limited public figure” idea. Perhaps it didn’t exist when I went to law school.

    I remember years ago an attorney older than me looked at me blankly when I mentioned Roe v. Wade. Attorneys don’t tend to keep up on the cases outside their area of practice.

  9. I can’t help but wonder how this guy’s fellow agents feel about selling that developer’s units after he has sued one of their fellow agents?

  10. Kary,

    Girard College is a grossly misunderstood case. You should read the final ruling on that one. The Judge hung his hat on the publicity of the case causing the private institution to become a public place like a park or restaurant. When the case itself causes the shift from private to public, you know they are looking to sway in one direction, without setting a future precedent.

    I do agree that Lucas should have left himself a little leg room by saying “didn’t X go bankrupt back in the 80s?” Kind of leaving the door open to the possibility that things went bad, but not to full bankruptcy status.

    Didn’t Trump have this same complaint against Rosie O’Donnell?

  11. Jim Bob,

    That’s part of the bigger problem. I think I’ll write a post about Brokers and Agents and what happens if one agent says “bad property” at the same time another is talking a buyer into buying it. Here we have Designated Agency (Florida does not) which helps a little. In WA, the agent vs. the brokerage represents the client to some degree and they can have competing influences. Not so for many States.

    Florida is one of the few states that has totally outlawed Dual Agency about ten years ago. Which means they are not supposed to HAVE an opinion at all when acting in TB capacity. So hard to not have an opinion when you’ve already posted that opinion on a blog.

    Agency is a tricky business and I don’t talk about it much because it makes people’s heads hurt. But the real answer is Lucas when acting as a TB in Florida is not “allowed” to have an opinion under Agency Laws there.

  12. P.S. When Transaction Brokers had an opinion, it created what they call “the walk like a duck” trials. So the penalty is simply being held to the higher standard of agent vs. Transaction Broker, not a life sentence 🙂

  13. Interesting.

    IMHO I was (very definitely, IMHO) conned by a realtor in Bangor, Maine…well…he and I both know what he did. But I guess I have to preface everything with IMHO or “alleged”.

    For the record, I took it up with an NAR”s “Ethics” committee who put a gag order on ME, but then illegally forwarded every one of my private emails that I wrote to them—to the accused realtors.

    Except, the accused were too computer illiterate to figure out that the emails were only forwarded by the phony “ethics” committee. So they tried to sue ME for harrassment.


    But that’s Bangor, Maine. Not much of a gene pool up there, I guess.

    Anyhow, the realtor is now running for office, so now he IS a public figure.

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