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Man Says Florida Newspapers Defamed Him

WEST PALM BEACH - A man claims the Sun-Sentinel and Palm Beach Post defamed him in articles that said he crashed his car into his house "in a jealous rage" to "get back at his wife," though it was just a case of a malfunctioning throttle.

The July 7, 2010 articles were available online this morning. They cite the police report as a source.

Joseph Anthony Loprete sued Sun Sentinel Co., Palm Beach Newspaper dba Palm Beach Post, and Clarity Digital Group LLC dba in Palm Beach County Court. He alleges defamation and privacy invasion.

Both newspapers, citing a police report, claimed that after the crash, Loprete told police, "Put me in cuffs, take me to jail, let's go."

Both newspapers mentioned "a mix of alcohol and jealous rage," though without quoting the phrase, and attributing it only to "records," not necessarily to the police report. Both said that when officers arrived, Loprete, then 48, of Boca Raton, sat inside on a couch while his wife "was in the bathroom crying hysterically."

Both newspapers reported that "records show" Loprete was arrested on charges of DUI property damage, aggravated assault and criminal mischief.

LoPrete says in his complaint: "The content of an article published by defendant(s) on or about July 7, 2010 contained a false statement about plaintiff Mr. Joseph LoPrete. Specifically, that plaintiff drove his vehicle into his home 'in a jealous rage' to 'get back at his wife,' leading to his arrest.

"The article(s), published in print and/or electronically, was viewed by at least a third party.

"The falsity of the statement about Mr. Loprete has caused injury to his professional reputation, resulting in loss of business income in excess of $15,000.

"Plaintiff lost control of his vehicle due to a malfunctioning throttle.

"Plaintiff had no intent to drive vehicle into his house, or 'get back at his wife.'

"Plaintiff's wife was later involved in a similar accident in the same vehicle, as a result of a malfunctioning throttle."

Loprete seeks an injunction relief, $658,647 in compensatory damages, punitive damages, and costs.

He is represented by Basil Von Lashley, of Melbourne Beach.

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