Musto v. Bell South Telecommunications Corporation

748 So. 2d 296 (1999)

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Musto v. Bell South Telecommunications Corporation

Florida District Court of Appeal
748 So. 2d 296 (1999)

Facts

Bell South Telecommunications Corporation (Bell South) (defendant), through its agent Recovery Specialist, Inc. (RSI) (defendant), filed a report with Equifax Credit Information Services (Equifax), a credit-reporting agency, stating that Michael Musto (plaintiff) had failed to timely provide Bell South with damages reimbursement. Bell South and RSI filed the report against Musto in 1993. Several years later, after Musto was denied credit, Musto learned his credit was damaged. Musto did not specifically learn about Bell South’s report to Equifax until January 1997, when a potential creditor pulled Musto’s Equifax credit report. Musto sued Bell South and RSI for credit defamation, also called credit slander, alleging that Bell South and RSI had filed an inaccurate and defamatory report about Musto with Equifax. Bell South and RSI moved for summary judgment, arguing that (1) the statute of limitations for credit-defamation claims was two years from the date of the original publication of the allegedly false report; and (2) because RSI filed the credit report against Musto in 1993, but Musto did not file his credit-defamation claim until 1997, Musto’s claim was time-barred. Musto countered, arguing that, under the multiple-publication rule, the statute of limitations reset each time Musto’s credit report was communicated to a potential creditor, which happened most recently in 1997. The trial court dismissed Musto’s claim as untimely, holding that, under the single-publication rule, the statute of limitations ran from the original communication of Bell South’s report against Musto to Equifax. Musto appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Polen, J.)

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