Fla. Enviro Can't Ditch $4.4M 'Malice' Verdict Over Project

By Michael Phillis (June 19, 2019, 4:51 PM EDT) -- A Florida appeals court on Wednesday upheld a jury's $4.4 million verdict against an environmentalist for pressuring local officials to squash a contractor's deal for a mining and water treatment project, deciding the activity wasn't free speech because she lied when she lobbied against the plan.

Judge Burton C. Conner, writing for a unanimous panel, said former Martin County commissioner Maggy Hurchalla acted with actual malice when she wrote to all five members of the Martin County Commission in 2013 alleging a study to document the benefits for the project had been planned but never provided. She later said she had...

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