Broward County lawyers want a judge to dismiss new claims brought by the troubled Young At Art (YAA) children’s museum. Last month, REDBROWARD reported the County moved to have Judge William Haury dismiss several counts in the original YAA lawsuit. Last October, the museum filed a lawsuit fearing an imminent takeover by Broward County government.
After the lawsuit was filed, County officials and YAA officials tried to negotiate a new deal. The motion to dismiss and new libel and slander lawsuit filed against the County seemed to signal the end of negotiations.
Two weeks ago, REDBROWARD reported former Judge Jay Spechler filed a libel and slander lawsuit on behalf of his wife, Mindy Shrago and his son Zack Spechler. Shrago is the CEO of Young At Art. Zack Spechler is a YAA curator. The lawsuit alleges eight counts of libel and slander against Broward County, ArtsMarket, Inc and its owner Louise Stevens. Lawsuit claims Broward County Commissioners and the independent consultant made numerous false statements about Shrago, Spechler and YAA.
On the same day, libel and slander claims were added to the original lawsuit against Broward County, Artsmarket and Louise Stevens.
On Tuesday, Broward County lawyers stated Young At Art made “fatal” mistakes in their original lawsuit.
In its motion, Broward County stated it made “numerous attempts to help YAA while YAA has been unable to sustain itself financially.” County lawyers stated the lawsuit was “hastily” filed while the County negotiated with YAA for a new deal.
The motion states, “In YAA’s haste, however, YAA failed to follow basic Florida statutory notice requirements for suing a political subdivision of the sate in tort. Such failure is fatal to YAA’s tort claims. In an attempt to ‘remedy’ this default found in the initial complaint, YAA amended its complaint. However, the Amended Complaint still fails to comply with the law regarding statutory notice, and to alleges, because it cannot allege, such compliance. Thus, the Couty must dimiss all of YAA’s tort counts.”
As to the new counts, Broward County lawyers stated County Commissioners enjoy “absolute immunity” from libel and slander causes of actions. The new claims mirror the claims made in the suit brought by Shrago and Spechler. They claim comments made at government meetings by Commissioners Sue Gunzburger, Tim Ryan and Dale Holness were defamatory. The County told the Court, “The reason for this immunity is clear. Public officials must be able to offer ‘free and open explanations of their actions.”