Jamaican Bigwig Claims Lawyer Defamed Him | Courthouse News Service
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Jamaican Bigwig Claims Lawyer Defamed Him

FT. LAUDERDALE (CN) - A former Jamaican Minister of Information claims in court that a Ft. Lauderdale attorney defamed him in politically motivated emails that accused him of having close ties to a "violent, politically affiliated Jamaican drug lord."

Former Jamaican Minister of Information and Telecommunication Daryl Vaz sued David P. Rowe in Broward County Court.

"Over the past several of years, Jamaican-born defendant Rowe has engaged in a vicious smear campaign to defame reputable prominent Jamaican officials and businessmen," the complaint states. "Defendant Rowe, a lawyer, has often and unjustly targeted members of the Jamaica Labour Party with whom his political interests are not aligned. ...

"While Defendant Rowe has a long history of attacking the Jamaican government, he has now crossed all boundaries of permissible conduct by sending a fictional government document to individual members of the general public through anonymous email correspondence.

"Indeed, his slanderous campaign was the basis of a 2010 lawsuit which was brought by the Jamaican Cabinet Minister of Energy and Mining against defendant Rowe, claiming that defendant Rowe conspired to defame him by publishing statements, among others, that the Cabinet Minister keeps a staff of 'henchmen' and 'shooters', advocates violence on his political opponents and his own people, instigated murder for hire and was involved in the distribution of illegal fire arms to members of the Labour Party. The lawsuit alleged that Rowe published the statements by stating they were part of a sworn statement given in a case pending in the Southern District of Florida, when, in fact, no such case existed.

"Then, on March 23, 2012, again dissatisfied with the current state of governance in Jamaica, defendant Rowe destructively targeted individual figures through individualized, personal attacks. He sent, or caused to be sent, two emails containing the fabricated government document seeking to destroy Vaz's reputation by, among other things, falsely linking him to one of the most notorious criminals in Jamaica's history.

"Having previously generically linked convicted drug lord Christopher Coke to political figures and stating that Coke is a 'violent, politically affiliated Jamaican drug lord,' defendant Rowe has now personally, directly and falsely tied Vaz to Coke.

"Defendant Rowe sent the emails to a list of individuals in various countries. The emails were rapidly re-circulated via the Internet and throughout Jamaica and globally."

Vaz adds: "The defamation occurred through March 23, 2012 email transmissions sent by defendant Rowe hiding behind pseudonyms. In those emails, defendant Rowe, a member of the Florida Bar who practices in the state of Florida, fabricated and published a document which purported to be an official 'U.S. Law Enforcement Memo to [Turks and Caicos Special Investigation and Prosecutions Team]' and which made direct accusations of (1) bribery, (2) money laundering, (3) corruption and (4) close affiliations with a notorious convicted drug lord. These allegations are patently false, defamatory per se, and unconscionable. ...

"The publication of these false and misleading statements was calculated and designed to injuriously affect Vaz's reputation by falsely claiming that Vaz, the former Minister of Information and Telecommunications for Jamaica, was a 'close confederate of international drug Kingpin Christopher Coke.' Such statements were published by Rowe: (a) with knowledge that the statements were false; (b) with reckless disregard for their truth or falsity; and/or (c) when Rowe should have known, through the exercise of reasonable care, that the statements were false and with ill-will."

Vaz seeks punitive damages.

He is represented by Jennifer Glasser with Akerman Senterfitt of Miami.

Christopher Coke allegedly controlled a neighborhood in Kingston, Jamaica, which police were unable to enter without his consent. At the behest of the United States, Jamaican police nabbed him in 2010 after a series of violent clashes with his gang. He was extradited to the United States, and pleaded guilty in August 2011 to federal racketeering charges. He is in jail in New York City, awaiting sentencing.

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