WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (CN) – A sheriff is allowed to use his Web site to call someone a deadbeat dad, the Florida Court of Appeals ruled. Robert Barbati sued Martin County Sheriff Robert Crowder after Crowder published Barbati’s name on his “Grinch List” of fathers who were delinquent in their child support payments.
At the time, Barbati owed more than $1.1 million in back child support.
The appellate court denied the sheriff’s motion to dismiss the case, but the Court of Appeals reversed the decision because the sheriff had immunity.
“The act of issuing a press release concerning the official duties of the sheriff was within the scope of the office of the sheriff,” the ruling states. “The purpose of the release was to induce delinquent parents to pay their child support, a proper governmental function.”