You are on page 1of 21
Filing # 98064164 E-Filed 10/29/2019 04:39:25 PM IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF ‘THE ELEVENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT IN AND FOR MIAMI- DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA DAVID RIVERA, KEVIN MEIZOSO, and JUSTIN RUMBAUGH, Plaintiffs, vs. CITY OF MIAMI, 4 political subdivision of the state of Florida, and JOSEPH ZAHRALBAN, a natural person. Defendant. COMPLAINT COMES NOW David Rivera (“Rivera”), Kevin Meizoso (“Meizoso”), and Justin Rumbaugh (‘Rumbaugh”), (hereinafter collectively referred to as “Plaintiffs”), by and through undersigned counsel, hereby make the following allegations against City of Miami (“Defendant One” or “City”) and Joseph Zabralban (“Defendant Two"), and allege as follows: INTRODUCTION 1. This is an action to recover damages resulting from certain false and/or misleading statements made, and actions taken by, Defendants that constitute the tort of defamation against Plaintiffs, JURISDICTION AND VENUE 2. This Court has Personal Jurisdiction over this matter. Rivera is a resident of Miami-Dade County, Florida and is otherwise Sui Juris. a. b. Meizoso is a resident of Miami-Dade County, Florida and is otherwise Sui Juris. cc. Rumbaugh is a resident of Broward County, Florida and is otherwise Sui Juris, 4d. Defendant One is a political subdivision of the State of Florida, located exclusively in Miami-Dade County, where it operates, conducts, engages in, and/or carries on business with its principal office in this located at 444 SW 2" Avenue, Miami, FL 33130 and with. the Fire Rescue Department headquarters at 1151 NW 7* Street, Miami, FL 33136. ©. Upon information and belief, Defendant Two is a resident of Miami-Dade County, Florida and is otherwise Sui Juris. Defendant Two was, at all times relevant, employed by the City as its Chief of the Department of Fire-Rescue. 3. Venue is proper in Miami-Dade County, Florida. a. This action is predicated on actions and statements that took place within Miami-Dade “ounty, Florida and all causes of action arose in Miami-Dade County, Florida. b. ‘The Venue may not, and need not, be changed out from Miami-Dade County as the majority of witnesses with knowledge of relevant facts to this matter reside in Miami- Dade County, and/or the substantially all the evidence relevant to this issue may only be found within Miami-Dade County. 4, This action is within the subject matter jurisdiction of this Court. Rivera has incurred damages exclusive of interest and attorneys” fees in an amount greater than fifteen thousand and zero dollars ($15,000.00 U.S.) b. Meizoso has incurred damages exclusive of interest and attorneys’ fees in an amount greater than fifteen thousand and zero dollars ($15,000.00 U.S.) cc. Rumbaugh has incurred damages exclusive of interest and attomeys’ fees in an amount greater than fifteen thousand and zero dollars ($15,000.00 U.S.) 4. In addition, Plaintiffs seck injunctive relief, both temporary and permanent, and thus this ‘matter is within the jurisdiction of this Cour 5. All conditions precedent to filing this action have occurred, been satisfied, or otherwise waived. a ALLEGATIONS 6. Atall times relevant, Rivera, Meizoso, and/or Rumbaugh, obtained a Certificate of Compliance to serve as firefighters in accordance with section 633.408, F.S. 7. Beinga firefighter is a profession, requiring certification. Firefighter certifications are transferable to other fire departments in the State of Florida. 8. Prior to November 1, 2017, Plaintifts a. Were employed by the City as firefighters who, when ealled upon, risked their personal safety to help save the lives of members of the community they served. b, Helped hundreds, ifnot thousands, of community residents; mostly black men, women, and children in Liberty City, the community they willingly and proudly served. c. Enjoyed a respected reputation amongst their community. 4d. Could secure a position as a firefighter anywhere in the State of Florida. 9. On November 1, 2017, Plaintiffs were terminated from their employment by the City of Miami 10. On November 2, 2017, Defendant Two and the City engaged in certain actions that gave rise to the Counts detailed herein, causing Plaintiffs substantial, lasting, and even permanent harm. This harm is ongoing. 11. On or about September 8, 2017 through September 10, 2017, Hurricane Irma was threatening the coast of Southeast Florida's coast, including the City of Miami. As such, given the state of emergency, many of the City’s firefighters were required to work longer than their normal shifts, many being temporarily relocated or “swung out” to other stations where firefighters were needed. Some firefighters, from neighboring municipalities that were evacuated, “swung in” to Station 12 to work their shifts by helping the residents of the City. 12, Prior to, and through, September 8, 2017, a City firefighter by the name of . Robert Webster left four photographs outside of his personal locker at the City’s Fire Rescue Station 12 located at 1455 NW 46" Street, Miami, FL 33142. 13. On or about the early evening of September 8, 2017, Lt. Alejandro Sese a ranking supervisor working for the City, directed a group of firefighters to draw phallic images using a marker on certain photographs belonging to Lt. Robert Webster, another employee of the City. A group of twelve firefighters, including a Captain, were all present. 14, Three of the four photographs, after having been removed from their frames, were drawn with phallic images using an erasable marker. (“Marked Up Photos”). 15, Rivera did not mark up the photographs, in fact he tried to discourage those present from drawing phallic images on the photographs, 16, At some time shortly after the photographs were marked up, they were placed back in their frames and retumed to Lt. Webster’s shared quarters at Station 12. 17. On Saturday, September 9, 2017, Plaintiffs left Station 12 and September 11, 2017. 18, On Sunday, September 10, 2017, a string shaped like a noose ("Noose Shaped String”) was placed over the Marked-Up Photos. 19, Plaintiffs did not place the Noose Shaped String on the Marked-Up Photos. not return until Monday, 20. None of the firefighters fired in connection with the Marked-Up Photos could have placed the Noose Shaped String because they were not at Station 12, for any period of time on September 10, 2017. 21. On Sunday, September 10, 2017, Lt. Webster first discovered the Marked-Up Photos in his shared quarters 22, At least two witnesses reported not seeing a Noose Shaped String when they saw the Marked-Up Photos during the two-day period of September 9, 2017 and September 10, 2017. 23. Shortly after discovering the Marked-Up Photos on September 10, 2017, Lt. Webster reported to the City and Defendant Two that he allegedly discovered the Noose Shaped String placed over the Marked-Up Photos. 24, Thus, the Noose Shaped String was placed on the Marked-Up Photos at some time between the ‘moment the last witness observed the Marked-Up Photos on September 10, 2017 (without the Noose Shaped String) and when Lt. Webster reported allegedly discovering the Noose Shaped String later that night. 25. When Lt. Webster notified Defendant Two of the existence of the Noose Shaped String and the Marked-Up Photos, Defendant Two contacted the City of Miami Police Department of a possible crime. 26. The City of Miami Police Department investigated this matter as they would a homicide. During the course of the investigation, the investigating officers determined the placement of the Noose Shaped String and the Marked-Up Photos were two separate incidents. 27. The City of Miami Police Department and the City’s Department of Fire Rescue agreed to continue the investigation administratively, the State Attorney for the State of Florida signed a elose out ‘memo. 28. Plaintiffs were then involuntarily terminated on November 1, 2017. Prior to deciding to terminate Plaintiffs on November 1, 2017, Defendant Two reviewed reports and sworn testimony with assistant chiefs assigned to investigate the matter on behalf of the City. The meeting lasted approximately eight hours. 29. On or before November 1, 2017, the City knew or should have known that although Plaintiffs were present during the acts that gave rise to the Marked-Up Photos, none of the Plaintiffs were connected to the placement of the String Shaped Noose because Plaintfis were not present at Station 12 at any time when the noose could have been placed, 30. On or before November 1, 2017, Defendant Two knew or should have known that although Plaintiffs were present during the acts that gave rise to the Marked-Up Photos, none of the Plaintiffs were connected to the placement of the String Shaped Noose because Plaintiffs were not at Station 12. 31. On November 1, 2017, Rivera, Meizoso, and Rumbaugh were involuntarily terminated by the City. 32. The termination letters do not mention the Noose Shaped String but do mention the Marked-Up Photos. Despite no mention of the Noose Shaped String on the termi tion letters, by describing the series of events that transpired over multiple days as one “incident”, the City and Defendant Two framed, or allowed the framing, of Plaintiffs for the placement of the Noose Shaped String, ‘The Big Lie 33. On November 2, 2017, the City and Defendant Two intentionally and voluntarily broadcast an email to the media, which said in relevant part that Plaintiffs were terminated because they were directly involved in “the incident.” More specifically, the written statement, the attached termination letters, and the other attachments (including the photographs) (hereinafter referred to as “Chief's First Statement”), combined both the Marked-Up Photos and the ph ‘ing of the Noose Shaped String as one incident. Since the City described “the incident” as one incident instead of two separate “incidents”, the message conveyed, or the inference made, is thatthe individual(s) that placed the Noose Shaped String on the Marked-Up Photos was/were fired, This is not true because the two incidents were separated in time by ‘more than 24 hours, with two separate pools of firefighters being present at the time the Noose Shaped String was placed; this fact has been corroborated by two firefighter witnesses both having recorded statements considered by the City prior to making the Chief's First Statements and Second Statements, 34. To be clear, the first incident was the drawing on the Marked-Up Photos. The second incident was the Placement of the Noose Shaped String. The City and Defendant Two lumped them together in a misrepresentation to the public, Together, Defendants published this material misrepresentation over the span of several days, through careful and thought out deliberation, to convince the public that only one incident occurred with both the Noose Shaped String and the Marked-Up Photos, and thus Plaintiis would share blame for both incidents. Plaintiffs did not place, and could not have placed, the Noose ‘Shaped String. As such, a. The Chief's First Statement contained false statements; or Plead in the alternative, the Chief"s First Statement was written weaving some truths while omitting others in order to create a false inference; that Plaintiffs were somehow responsible for placing the Noose Shaped String, 35. The Chief's First Statement was published to third parties: a. By the City and through Defendant Two at all times relevant: i, Atthe express direction, and on behalf of, the City, subject at all times to the City’s control; or fi, On behalf of the City in Defendant Two's official capacity, at all times acting within the course and scope of his employment authority, subject to City’s Control; or plead in the alternative, by Defendant Two who was acting, at all times relevant, outside the course and scope of his employment with the City. 36. The Chief's First Statement were sent to members of the Press which include: a. Local news channel 7, 4, 6, 10, 51, and 23; b, WIOD 610; c. David Smiley, Miami Herald; d. Dominick Proto- ABC News; €. Andrea Robinson- Miami Times; Jerry Lannelli [sic] Miami New Times; Associated Press; and h. Tina Bumside- Turner Communications. Collectively, the persons identified in this paragraph, and/or the media enterprises they represent, along with all individuals whom received the Chief's First S talement shall be referred herein as “the Press The Press then republished the message to all their hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of viewers and/or subscribers around the globe. 37. On November 3, 2017, the City and Defendant Two held a press conference, again describing the Marked-Up Photos and the placement of the Noose Shaped String as one incident and not two; Defendants described the incident as involving sexually explicit and racially offensive conduct (“Chief's Second Statement” ). These recorded statements were then rebroadcast around the globe in a manner similar to the Chief's First Statement. 38. The City and Defendant Two stated as fact that the Plaintiffs were responsible for “Acts of Hate”, forever branding the Plaintiffs as racists. When combining the Chiefs First Statement and the Chiefs Second Statement, the inference was clearly to brand the Plaintiffs as racists. Plaintiffs are not racists. a. Rivera is not a racist, Rivera’s actions and/or omissions were not motivated by race. His actions and/or omissions were not motivated by hate. b.-Meizoso is not a racist. Meizoso’s actions and/or omissions were not motivated by race. His actions and/or omissions were not motivated by hate c. Rumbaugh is not a racist, Rumbaugh’s actions and/or omissions were not motivated by race. His actions and/or omissions were not motivated by hate. 39. The City and Defendant Two, nevertheless, broadcast to the media as fact that the acts and/or omissions by Plaintiffs were “acts of hate.” This is false 40. The Chief's First Statement was made with deliberation and careful thought. 41. Th e Chief’s Second Statement was also made with deliberate and careful thought, at the direction of the Defendant Two and with the support of the City Manager, from a scripted writing, 42, The City intentionally kept these false statements in the press and provided photographs after actively looking for the firefighter’s photos from its internal systems. 43. On or about November 3, 2017, by the City’s own admission, its attomey explained, “As former first responders, their photos are confidential and exempt under Florida’s public disclosure law and should have not been released.” Nevertheless these photos were published to the world, and the damage was done. : On November 2, 2017, Plaintiffs were former firefighters, no longer employed by the City. Fla. Stat. 119,071(4)(4)2d (2017) ("The ... photographs of... former firefighters certified in compliance with s. 633.408 are exempt from s, 119.07(1) and s. 24(a), Art. ofthe State Constitution.”). The purpose of this exception for public record requests is to protect the safety of Florida's firefighters, former firefighters, and the families of first responders 44, During the Chief"s Second Statement, Defendant Two said, “In the Miami Fire Department, we hold honor, integrity, and respect for our fellow firefighters in the highest regard. If you do not believe in this philosophy, I promise you will struggle in our organization.” This statement is false andlor, in the context given, creates an inference that Plaintiffs have no honor, lack integrity, and do not respect their fellow firefighters. 45. Fi cfighters that prank each other do not struggle within the organization as pranks are often celebrated and many pranksters are awarded promotions. In the past, the City has accepted, even celebrated, pranks. 46, The City of Miami Fire Department has a long and rich history of pranking each other. 47. From the moment recruits are employed as probationary firefighters by the City (commonly referred to as “Probies”), they are taught by their superiors that City firefighters prank each other. The City’s firefighters often celebrate pranks, comparing pranks between shifts. As firefighters often do, challenging each other to outdo the previous prank is normal, everyday firefighter activity within the City. This is learned behavior that is part of the training offered by the City. 48. Many firefighters who perform these pranks still, to this day, prank each other; some harder than others. Over the years, prankster firefighters have reached supervisory ranks within the City, including chief. Others have retired comfortably, and yet others now work for different municipalities where they serve as high ranking firefighters. 49. On-duty pranks have been tolerated by the City for decades. These pranks happen often and are part of the everyday life for the City’s firefighters. 50. As Probies, Plaintiffs were taught and encouraged by their employer to participate in this accepted firefighter “prank culture”, Plaintiffs wer h the target of many pranks, especially when they were Probies. Supervisors have been the target of, and participated in, many pranks 51. The City and Defendant Two have tolerated at least one prank far worse than the Marked-Up Photos, for example the placement of the Noose Shaped String which occurred on September 10, 2017. To this day, the person(s) responsible for the placement of the Noose Shaped String remain at large. Upon information and belief, the person(s) responsible for the placement of the Noose Shaped String remains employed by the City. No consequences have been realized by the person(s) responsible for the placement of the Noose Shaped String, and the placement of such has been tolerated by the City and Defendant Two. 52. As of September 8, 2017, Plaintiffs counted thems Ives amongst the newer firefighters in the City’s Station 12. They were often required by their supervisors and/or their peers to participate in these pranks as either pranksters or targets, to earn their right to be a part of Station 12. 53. It was not uncommon within the City for large groups of firefighters (including supervisors) to pressure their targets into performing certain unspeakable tasks. ‘These tasks include firefighters pranking themselves and each other. The City’s supervisor acts and omissions creating pressure on Plaintiffs were not limited to Station 12. 54. When any firefighter hesitates to participat this City condoned “prank culture”, the resisting firefighter is often the target of the next prank. 55. It was the careful and deliberate choice of Defendant Two, and the City, to blame Plaintiff, in whole or in part, for the Marked-Up Photos and the Noose Shaped String. It was the careful and deliberate choice of the City to group together the two separate incidents so that the Plaintiffs terminated for one incident were seen as the perpetrator of the second. 56, Plaintifis have suffered substantial harm as a result of the acts and omissions referenced herein 57. On November 2, 2017, the City and/or Defendant Two knew or should have known that releasing the photographs of Plaintiffs was violating Plaintiffs’ privacy rights and could lead to exposing Plaintiffs, and their family members, to foreseeable harm. 58. After the City and Defendant Two made both the Chief's First Statement and the Chief's Second Statement, the Press republished the photographs, along the defamatory statements, violating Plaintifts privacy and causing Plaintiffs and their family substantial harm. 59. The reports about Plaintiffs alleged activities spread like wildfire and across the globe; the reports, of firefighters placing the Noose Shaped String over a black co-worker’s Marked-Up Photos were seen far and wide. Prominently in hundreds of stories were the photographs of Plaintiffs, their names, and false allegations. 60. Plaintiffs are private persons with meager resources compared to the collective power of the City of Miami; they had just been terminated, had no income, and were falsely accused of doing something they did not do because the City that accused them of doing this wanted the world to believe that Plaintiffs were fired for directly involving themselves in “the incident.” 61. All of these reports are a direct, and foreseeable consequence of the City and Defendant Two's material acts and omissions made in connection with the Chiet’s First and Second S Statements. 62. Family members, close friends, and professional associates of Plaintiffs began to ostracize them, treating them as racists. 63. Future opportunities for Plaintiffs to secure employment with other fire departments after being terminated in this manner were substantially harmed. On many occasions, afer securing a position as a firefighter or a lifeguard, Plaintiffs were fired because their new employers soon discovered the media blitz predicated on the defamatory acts of Defendants. Despite being told the statements were not true, employers refused to employ Plaintiffs, 64. The material acts and omissions made in connection with the Chief's First and Second Statements have led to Plaintiffs being terminated and/or effectively blackballed by many other fire departments. 65. Since the publication of the Chief's First and Second Statements, and over a year after the Chief's First and $ ond Statements, Plaintfs were accused by the City’s employee Lt. Robert Webster of using “terroristic tools”, suggesting Plaintiffs were terrorists. 66, Ruben Roberts of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (“NAACP”), ‘when discussing the noose on #Roland Martin Unfiltered on a segment called “Racist Miami Firefighters Charged” told thousands of viewers that Pi ifs were using “terroristic tools” to “keep black people in their place or put fear in black people”. Mr. Roberts explained that “To me it’s isa threat.” He later said he doesn’t feel safe, if Plaintiffs “feel they can put a noose” and that he would fight to make sure they don’t get their jobs back. 67. Upon information and belief, the City is working with the NAACP to stop the Plaintiffs from being employed or employable as firefighters anywhere. 68. Although Plaintiffs have had nothing to do with the placement of the Noose Shaped String, both Plaintiffs and their immediate family, have been accused of racism and threatened through various means. 69. The City gaslit America by defaming Plaintiffs to convince the world into believing a lie; that Plaintiffs were somehow responsible for the threatening Lt. Webster by placing the Noose Shaped String. This is not tru. 70. The truth here is that the persons that were terminated had nothing to do with the Noose Shaped String, and that an casy erase marker applied to the Marked-Up Photos come clean off with the swipe of a finger. The truth is that the City and Defendant Two have tolerated, even celebrated, pranks far worse than the Marked-Up Photos, including pranks played on Plaintiffs by some of the most senior supervisors in the City. The truth is that the City would rather blame Plaintiffs and ruin their reputation with defamatory statements than to take ownership for its failures, its shortcomings, and for gaslighting and otherwise misleading the black community. 71. The only Damages sought in this action arise from the material acts and omissions by the City and Defendant Two in defamation starting from the publication of the Chief’s First Statements, and/or the Chief's Second Statements, in whole or in part, to the first third party. Damages are ongoing and continuing. All matters leading up to and including the moment of termination, including the remedy for backpay, re-employment, seniority rights, and all other benefits Plaintiffs would have been entitled to for all lost time had plaintiffs not been wrongfully terminated, are not included in any remedy sought in this Complaint. Thos COUNT I- DEFAMATION (THE CITY’S LIBEL OF DAVID RIVERA) 72. Plaintiff Rivera realleges and re-avers the foregoing paragraphs one (1) through seventy-one (71), claims have been, and/or are being, handled admis tratively. as if fully set forth herein for this paragraph seventy-two (72). 73. The City has published the Chief's First Statement concerning Rivera through unprivileged communications to third parties in writing 74. The Chief's First Statement published by the City concerning Rivera contains false statements. 75. In the altemative to paragraph 74, the statements made in the Chief's First Statement includes a series of facts stated so as to imply a defamatory connection between them or creates a defamatory implication by omitting facts, such that the City may be held responsible for the defamatory implication. The statement created, among other things, a false inuendo that Rivera’s connection with the Marked-Up Photos, if any, were connected to the placement of the Noose Shaped String; that Rivera’s acts and/or omissions were acts of hate; and/or that Rivera lacked honor, integrity, or respect for his fellow firefighter in the context of the traditions and culture of the City’s fire department. 76. The City made 1 s¢ false and defamatory statements in the Chief"s First Statement, intentionally, but at least in a negligent manner. 77. Plead in the alternative to paragraph 76, at the time of publication of the Chief's First Statement, the ty knew, or with reckless disregard had knowledge of, the false statements and made these false statements with intentional malice. At the time of the Chief's First Statement, the City certainly knew, or should have known, the fact that Rivera had no connection whatsoever with the Noose Shaped String. 78. The false and defamatory statements made by the City are actionable and irrespective of special harm and, given the nature of the false and defamatory statements, substantial damage and special harm to Rivera was caused by the publication of the Chief's First Statement. 79. The Chief's First Statement is defamatory and libelous, made with the purpose of harming Rivera’s reputation in the community and in his chosen profession. WHEREFORE, Plaintiff, David Rivera, res fully requests that this Honorable Court enter judgment against the Defendant, the City of Miami, for monetary damages, pre-judgment interest, post- judgment interest, the cost incurred in the prosecution of this action, and such other and further relief as, the Court may deem just and proper. COUNT II- DEFAMATION (T OF DAVID RIVERA) 80. Plaintiff Rivera realleges and re-avers the foregoing paragraphs one (1) through seventy-one (71), as if fully set forth herein for this paragraph eighty (80). 81. The City has published the Chief's Second Statement concerning Rivera through unprivileged communications to third parties verbally. 82. The Chief's Second Statement published by the City concerning Rivera contains false statements. 83. In the altemative to paragraph 82, the statements made by the City in the Chief"s Second them or Statement includ tes series of facts stated so as to imply a defamatory connection betwe ‘a defamatory implication by omitting facts, such that the City may be held responsible for the defamatory 10 implication. The statement created, among other things, a false inuendo that Rivera’s connection with the Marked-Up Photos, if any, were connected to the placement of the Noose Shaped String; that Rivera’s acts and/or omissions were acts of hate; andor that Rivera lacked honor, integrity, or respect for his fellow firefighter in the context of the traditions and culture of the City’s fire department. 84, The City made these false and defamatory statements in the Chief"s Second Statement, intentionally, but at least in a negligent manner. 85. Plead in the alternative to paragraph 84, at the time of publication of the Chief's Second Statement, the City knew, or with reckless disregard had knowledge of, the false statements and made these false statements with intentional malice. At the time of the CI ief's Second Statement, the City certainly knew, or should have known, the fact that Rivera had no connection whatsoever with the Noose Shaped String. 86. The false and defamatory statements made by the City are actionable and irrespective of special harm and, given the nature of the false and defamatory statements, substantial damage and special harm to Rivera was caused by the publication of the Chief"s Second Statement, 87. The Chief's Second Statement is defamatory and slanderous, made with the purpose of harming, Rivera’s reputation in the community and in his chosen profession. WHEREFORE, Plaintiff, David Rivera, respectfully requests that this Honorable Court enter judgment against the Defendant, the City of Miami, for monetary damages, pre-judgment interest, post- judgment interest, the cost incurred in the prosecution of this action, and such other and further relief as the Court may deem just and proper. COUNT III- DEFAMATION EZ AHRALBAN’S LIBEL OF DAVID RIVERA) 88. Plaintiff Rivera realleges and re-avers the foregoing paragraphs one (1) through seventy-one (71), as if fully set forth herein for this paragraph eighty-cight (88). 89, Defendant Two has published the Chief's First Statement concerning Rivera through unprivileged communications to third parties in writing 90. The Chief's First Statement published by Defendant Two conceming Rivera contains false statements, 91. In the altemative to paragraph 90, the statements made in the Chief's First Statement includes a series of facts stated so as to imply a defamatory connection between them or creates a defamatory implication by omitting fact such that Defendant Two may be held responsible for the defamatory implication. The statement created, among other things, a false inuendo that Rivera’s connection with the Marked-Up Photos, if any, were connected to the placement of the Noose Shaped String; that Rivera’s acts and/or omissions were acts of hate; and/or that Rivera lacked honor, integrity, or respect for his fellow firefighter in the context of the traditions and culture of the City’s fire department. u 92. Defendant Two made these false and defamatory statements in the Chief's First Statement, intentionally, but at least in a negligent manner. 93. Plead in the alternative to paragraph 92, at the time of publication of the Chief's First Statement, the City knew, or with reckless disregard had knowledge of, the false statements and made these false statements with intentional malice. At the time of the Chief's First Statement, Defendant Two certainly knew, or should have known, the fact that Rivera had no connection whatsoever with the Noose Shaped String, 94, The false and defamatory statements made by Defendant Two are actionable and irrespective of special harm and, given the nature of the false and defamatory statements, substantial damage and special harm to Rivera was caused by the publication of the Chief's First Statement. 95. The Chief's First Statement is defamatory and libelous, made with the purpose and/or effect of harming Rivera’s reputation in the community and in his chosen profession, 96. Asan agent for the City, Defendant Two is jointly and severally liable to Rivera for the intentional tort of defamation committed by Defendant Two. As an agent for the City, to the extent that Defendant is not jointly and severally liable, either because at all times relevant Defendant Two was not acting within the course and scope of his employment or because damage is somehow apportioned, Rivera seeks damages from Defendant Two. WHEREFORE, Plainti , David Rivera, respectfully requests that this Honorable Court enter judgment against the Defendant, Joseph Zahralban, for monetary damages, pre-judgment interest, post- judgment interest, the cost incurred in the prosecution of this action, and such other and further relief as the yurt may deem just and proper. COUNT IV-D) 97. Plaintiff Rivera realleges and re-avers the foregoing paragraphs one (1) through seventy-one (71), as if fully set forth herein for this paragraph ninety-seven (97). 98. Defendant Two has published the Chief"s Second Statement concerning Rivera through unprivileged communications to third parties verbally. 99. The Chief's Second Statement published by Defendant Two conceming Rivera contains false statements, 100. In the alternative to paragraph 99, the statements made by Defendant Two in the Chief's Second Statement includes a ries of facts stated so as to imply a defamatory connection between them or creates a defamatory implication by omitting facts, such that Defendant Two may be held responsible for the defamatory implication. The statement created, among other things, a false inuendo that Rivera’s connection with the Marked-Up Photos, if any, were conne ed to the placement of the Noose Shaped 12 String; that Rivera’s acts and/or omissions were acts of hate; and/or that Rivera lacked honor, integrity, or respect for his fellow firefighter in the context of the traditions and culture of the ty's fire department. 101 Defendant Two made these false and defamatory statements in the Chief's Second Statement, intentionally, but at least in a negligent manner, 102. Plead in the altemative to paragraph 101, atthe time of publication of the Chief’s Second Statement, Defendant Two knew, or with reckless disregard had knowledge of, the false statements and ‘made these false statements with intentional malice. At the time of the Chief's Second Statement, Defendant Two certainly knew, or should have known, the fact that Rivera had no connection whatsoever with the Noose Shaped String. 103. ‘The false and defamatory statements made by Defendant Two are actionable and irrespective of special harm and, given the nature of the false and defamatory statements, substantial damage and special harm to Rivera was caused by the publication of the Chief's Second Statement. 104, ‘The Chief’s Second Statement is defamatory and slanderous, made with the purpose of harming Rivera’s reputation in the community and in his chosen profession. 105. ‘As an agent for the City, Defendant Two is jointly and severally liable to Rivera for the intentional tort of defamation committed by Defendant Two. As an agent for the City, to the extent that Defendant is not jointly and severally liable, either because at all times relevant Defendant Two was not acting within the course and scope of his employment or because damage is somchow apportioned, Rivera secks damages from Defendant Two. Wh FORE, Plaintiff, David Rivera, respectfully requests that this Honorable Court enter judgment against the Defendant, Joseph Zahralban, for monetary damages, pre-judgment interest, post- judgment interest, the cost incurred in the prosecution of this action, and such other and further relief as the Court may deem just and proper. OF KEVIN MEIZOSO) 106. Plaintiff Meizoso realleges and re-avers the foregoing paragraphs one (1) through seventy-one (71), as if fully set forth herein for this paragraph one hundred six (106). 107. ‘The City has published the Chief's First Statement concerning Meizoso through ‘unprivileged communications to third parties in writing, 108. ‘The Chief's First Statement published by the City concerning Meizoso contains false statements. 108. In the alternative to paragraph 108, the statements made in the Chief's First Statement includes a series of facts stated so as to imply a defamatory connection between them or creates a defamatory implication by omitting facts, such that the City may be held responsible for the defamatory implication. The statement created, among other things, a false inuendo that Meizoso’s connection with B the Marked-Up Photos, if any, were connected to the placement of the Noose Shaped String; that, Meizoso’s acts and/or omissions were acts of hate; andor that Meizoso lacked honor, integrity, or spect for his fellow firefighter in the context of the traditions and culture of the City’s fire department. 110. ‘The City made these false and defamatory statements in the Chief's First Statement, intentionally, but at least in a negligent manner. ML Plead in the alternative to paragraph 110, at the time of publication of the Chief's First Statement, the City knew, or with reckless disregard had knowledge of, the false statements and made these false statements with intentional malice. At the time of the Chief's First Statement, the City that Meizoso had no connection whatsoever with the certainly knew, or should have known, the Noose Shaped String 112. ‘The false and defamatory statements made by the City are actionable and irrespective of special harm and, given the nature of the false and defamatory statements, substantial damage and special harm to Meizoso was caused by the publication of the Chief's First Statement, 113. ‘The Chiet"s First Statement is defamatory and libelous, made with the purpose of harming Meizoso’s reputation in the community and in his chosen profession. WHEREFORE, Plaintiff, Kevin Meizoso, respectfully requests that this Honorable Court enter judgment against the Defendant, the City of Miami, for monetary damages, pre-judgment interest, post- judgment interest, the cost incurred in the prosecution of this action, and such other and further reli the Court may deem just and proper. COUNT VI- DEFAMATIO! 114 Plaintiff Meizoso realleges and re-avers the foregoing paragraphs one (1) through HE CITY’S SLANDER OF Ki seventy-one (71), as if fully set forth herein for this paragraph one hundred fourteen (114), 115. The City has published the Chief's Second Statement conceming Meizoso through Lnprivileged communications to third parties verbally. 116. ‘The Chief’s Second Statement published by the City concerning Meizoso contains false statements, 17. In the alternative to paragraph 116, the statements made by the City in the Chief's Second Statement includes a series of facts stated so as to imply a defamatory connection between them or creates defamatory implication by omitting facts, such that the City may be held responsible for the defamatory implication. The statement created, among other things, a false inuendo that Meizoso’s connection with the Marked-Up Photos, if any, were connected to the placement of the Noose Shaped String; that Meizoso’s acts and/or omissions were acts of hate; and/or that Meizoso lacked honor, integrity, or respect for his fellow firefighter in the context of the traditions and culture of the City’s fire department. 14 118, ‘The City made these false and defamatory statements in the Chief"s Second Statement, intentionally, but at least in a negligent manner. 119. Plead in the altemative to paragraph 118, at the time of publication of the Chief's Second, Statement, the City knew, or with reckless disregard had knowledge of, the false statements and made these false statements with intentional malice. At the time of the Chief's Second Statement, the City certainly knew, or should have known, the fact that Meizoso had no connection whatsoever with the Noose Shaped String, 120, ‘The false and defamatory statements made by the City are actionable and irrespective of special harm and, given the nature of the false and defamatory statements, substantial damage and special harm to Meizoso was caused by the publication of the Chief's Second Statement. 121 The Chief's ;cond Statement is defamatory and slanderous, made with the purpose of harming Meizoso’s reputation in the community and in his chosen profession, WHE! FORE, Plaintiff, Kevin Meizoso, respectfully requests that this Honorable Court enter judgment against the Defendant, the City of Miami, for monetary damages, pre-judgment interest, post- judgment interest, the cost incurred in the prosecution of this action, and such other and further relief as the Court may deem just and proper. COUNT ViI- DEFAMATION (JOE ZAHRALBAN’S LIBEL OF KEVIN MEIZOSO) 122, Plaintiff Mcizoso realleges and re-avers the foregoing paragraphs one (1) through seventy-one (71), as if fully set forth herein for this paragraph one hundred twenty-two (122) 123 Defendant Two has published the Chief's First Statement concerning Meizoso through unprivileged communications to third parties in writing, 124 The Chief"s First Statement published by Defendant Two conceming Meizoso contains false statements. 128. In the alternative to paragraph 124, the statements made in the Chief's First Statement includes a series of fac stated so as to imply a defamatory connection between them or creates a defamatory implication by omitting facts, such that Defendant Two may be held responsible for the defamatory implication. The statement created, among other things, a false inuendo that Meizoso’s connection with the Marked-Up Photos, if any, were connected to the placement of the Noose Shaped String; that Meizoso’s acts and/or omissions were acts of hate; and/or that Meizoso lacked honor, integrity, or respect for his fellow firefighter in the context of the traditions and culture of the City’s fire department. 126. Defendant Two made these false and defamatory statements in the Chief's First Statement, intentionally, but at least in a negligent manner, 15 127. Plead in the alternative to paragraph 126, at the time of publication of the Chief's First Statement, the City knew, or with reckless disregard had knowledge of, the false statements and made these false statements with intentional malice. At the time of the Chief*s First Statement, Defendant Two certainly knew, or should have known, the fact that Meizoso had no connection whatsoever with the Noose Shaped String 128. ‘The false and defamatory statements made by Defendant Two are actionable and irrespective of special harm and, given the nature of the false and defamatory statements, substantial damage and special harm to Meizoso was caused by the publication of the Chief"s First Statement. 129. ‘The Chief"s First Statement is defamatory and libelous, made with the purpose and/or effect of harming Meizoso’s reputation in the community and in his chosen profession, 130. ‘As an agent for the City, Defendant Two is jointly and severally liable to Meizoso for the intentional tort of defamation committed by Defendant Two. As an agent for the City, to the extent that Defendant is not jointly and severally liable, either because at all times relevant Defendant Two was not acting within the course and scope of his employment or because damage is somehow apportion Meizoso seeks damages from Defendant Two. WHEREFORE, Plaintiff, Kevin Meizoso, respectfully requests that this Honorable Court enter judgment against the Defendant, Joseph Zahralban, for monetary damages, pre-judgment interest, post- judgment interest, the cost incurred in the prosecution of this action, and such other and further reli the Court may deem just and proper. COUNT VIII- DEFAMATION (JOE ZAHRALBAN’S SLANDER OF KEVIN MEIZOSO) 131 Plaintiff Meizoso realleges and re-avers the foregoing paragraphs one (1) through seventy-one (71), as if fully set forth herein for this paragraph one hundred thirty-one (131). 132 Defendant Two has published the Chief's Second Statement conceming Meizoso through Lnprivileged communications to third parties verbally. 133. ‘The Chief’s Second Statement published by Defendant Two conceming Meizoso contains false statements 134 In the alternative to paragraph 133, the statements made by Defendant Two in the Chief's ‘Second Statement includes a series of facts stated so as to imply a defamatory connection between them, or creates a defamatory implication by omitting facts, such that Defendant Two may be held responsible for the defamatory implication. The statement created, among other things, a false inuendo that Meizoso’s connection with the Marked-Up Photos, if any, were connected to the placement of the Noose Shaped String; that Meizoso’s acts and/or omissions were acts of hate; and/or that Meizoso lacked honor, integrity, or respect for his fellow firefighter in the context of the traditions and culture of the City’s fire department 16 136. Defendant Two made these false and defamatory statements in the Chief's Second Statement, intentionally, but at least in a negligent manner, 136 Plead in the altemative to paragraph 135, at the time of publication of the Chief's Second Statement, Defendant Two knew, or with reckless disregard had knowledge of, the false statements and ‘made these false statements with intentional malice. At the time of the Chief's Second Statement, Defendant Two certainly knew, or should have known, the fact that Meizoso had no connection whatsoever with the Noose Shaped String. 137. The false and defamatory statements made by Defendant Two are actionable and irrespective of special harm and, given the nature of the false and defamatory statements, substantial damage and special harm to Meizoso was caused by the publication of the Chiefs Second Statement. 138. ‘The Chief's ;cond Statement is defamatory and slanderous, made with the purpose of harming Meizoso’s reputation in the community and in his chosen profession, 139. ‘As an agent for the City, Defendant Two is jointly and severally liable to Meizoso for the intentional tort of defamation committed by Defendant Two. As an agent for the City, to the extent that Defendant is not jointly and severally liable, either because at all times relevant Defendant Two was not acting within the course and scope of his employment or because damage is somehow apportioned, Meizoso seeks damages from Defendant Two. WHEREFORE, Plainti , Kevin Meizoso, respectfully requests that this Honorable Court enter judgment against the Defendant, Joseph Zahralban, for monetary damages, pre-judgment interest, post- judgment interest, the cost incurred in the prosecution of this action, and such other and further relief as the yurt may deem just and proper. COUNT IX- DEFAM. 140. Plaintiff Rumbaugh realleges and re-avers the foregoing paragraphs one (1) through seventy-one (71), as if fully set forth herein for this paragraph one hundred forty (140). 141. ‘The City has published the Chief's Fi unprivileged communications to third parties in writing t Statement concerning Rumbaugh through 142, ‘The Chief's First Statement published by the City concerning Rumbaugh contains false statements, 143. In the alternative to paragraph 142, the statements made in the Chief's First Statement includes a series of fac stated so as to imply a defamatory connection between them or creates a defamatory implication by omitting facts, such that the City may be held responsible for the defamatory implication. The statement created, among other things, a false inuendo that Rumbaugh’s connection with the Marked-Up Photos, if any, were connected to the placement of the Noose Shaped String; that 7 Rumbaugh’s acts and/or omissions were acts of hate; and/or that Rumbaugh lacked honor, integrity, or respect for his fellow firefighter in the context of the traditions and culture of the ty's fire department. 14 The City made these false and defamatory statements in the Chief"s First Statement, intentionally, but at least in a negligent manner. 145. Plead in the alternative to paragraph 144, atthe time of publication of the Chief's First Statement, the City knew, or with reckless disregard had knowledge of, the false statements and made these false statements with intentional malice. At the time of the Chief's First Statement, the City certainly knew, or should have known, the fact that Rumbaugh had no connection whatsoever with the Noose Shaped String 146. ‘The false and defamatory statements made by the City are actionable and imespective of special harm and, given the nature of the false and defamatory statements, substantial damage and special harm to Rumbaugh was caused by the publication of the Chief's First Statement. 147. ‘The Chief's First Statement is defamatory and libelous, made with the purpose of harming Rumbaugh’s reputation in the community and in his chosen profession WHEREFORE, Plaintiff, Justin Rumbaugh, respectfully requests that this Honorable Court enter judgment against the Defendant, the City of Miami, for monetary damages, pre-judgment interest, post- judgment interest, the cost incurred in the prosecution of this action, and such other and further relief as the Court may deem just and proper. cou: 148, Plaintiff Rumbaugh realleges and re-avers the foregoing paragraphs one (1) through seventy-one (71), as if fully set forth herein for this paragraph one hundred forty-eight (148) 149. The City has published the Chief’s Second Statement conceming Rumbaugh through unprivileged communications to thitd parties verbally. 150. ‘The Chief's Second Statement published by the City conceming Rumbaugh contains false statements, 151 In the alternative to paragraph 150, the statements made by the City in the Chief*s Second Statement includes a series of facts stated so as to imply a defamatory connection between them or creates ‘a defamatory implication by omitting facts, such that the City may be held responsible for the defamatory implication. The statement created, among other things, a false inuendo that Rumbaugh’s connection with the Marked-Up Photos, if any, were connected to the placement of the Noose Shaped String; that Rumbaugh’s acts and/or omissions were acts of hate; and/or that Rumbaugh lacked honor, integrity, or respect for his fellow firefighter in the context of the traditions and culture of the City’s fire department. 152 ‘The City made these false and defamatory statements in the Chief"s Second Statement, intentionally, but at least in a negligent manner. 18 153. Plead in the alternative to paragraph 152, at the time of publication of the Chief's Second Statement, the City knew, or with reckless disregard had knowledge of, the false statements and made these false statements with intentional malice. At the time of the Chief"s Second Statement, the City certainly knew, or should have known, the fact that Rumbaugh had no connection whatsoever with the Noose Shaped String 154 The false and defamatory statements made by the City are actionable and irrespective of special harm and, given the nature of the false and defamatory statements, substantial damage and special harm to Rumbaugh was caused by the publication of the Chief's Second Statement. 158. ‘The Chief’s Second Statement is defamatory and slanderous, made with the purpose of harming Rumbaugh’s reputation in the community and in his chosen profession. WHEREFORE, Plaintiff, Justin Rumbaugh, respectfully requests that this Honorable Court enter judgment against the Defendant, the City of Miami, for monetary damages, pre-judgment interest, post- judgment interest, the cost incurred in the prosecution of this action, and such other and further relief as, the yurt may deem just and proper. COUNT XI- DEFAMATION (JOE ZAHRALBAN’S LIBEL OF JUSTIN RUMBAUGH) 156 Plaintiff Rumbaugh realleges and re-avers the foregoing paragraphs one (1) through, seventy-one (71), as if fully set forth herein for this paragraph one hundred fifty-six (156). 157 Defendant Two has published the Chief's First Statement concerning Rumbaugh through unprivileged communications to third parties in writing, 158. ‘The Chief's First Statement published by Defendant Two concerning Rumbaugh contains false statements. 159. In the alternative to paragraph 158, the statements made in the Chief's First Statement includes a series of facts stated so as to imply a defamatory connection between them or creates a defamatory implication by omitting facts, such that Defendant Two may be held responsible for the defamatory implication. The statement created, among other things, a false inuendo that Rumbaugh’s connection with the Marked-Up Photos, if any, were connected to the placement of the Noose Shaped String; that Rumbaugh’s acts and/or omissions were acts of hate; and/or that Rumbaugh lacked honor, integrity, or respect for his fellow firefighter in the context of the traditions and culture of the City’s fire department. 160. Defendant Two made these false and defamatory statements in the Chi Statement, intentionally, but at least in a negligent manner, 161 Plead in the alternative to paragraph 160, at the time of publication of the Chief's First Statement, the City knew, or with reckless disregard had knowledge of, the false statements and made these false statements with intentional malice. At the time of the Chief's First Statement, Defendant Two 19 certainly knew, or should have known, the fact that Rumbaugh had no connection whatsoever with the Noose Shaped String 162. The false and defamatory statements made by Defendant Two are actionable and irrespective of special harm and, given the nature of the false and defamatory statements, substantial damage and special harm to Rumbaugh was caused by the publication of the Chief's First Statement. 163. ‘The Chief's First Statement is defamatory and libelous, made with the purpose and/or effect of harming Rumbaugh’s reputation in the community and in his chosen profession, 164 ‘As an agent for the City, Defendant Two is jointly and severally liable to Rumbaugh for the intentional tort of defamation committed by Defendant Two. As an agent for the City, to the extent that Defendant is not jointly and severally lable, either because at all times relevant Defendant Two was not acting within the course and scope of his employment or because damage is somehow apportioned, Rumbaugh seeks damages from Defendant Two. WHE! FORE, Plaintiff, Justin Rumbaugh, respectfully requests that this Honorable Court enter judgment against the Defendant, Joseph Zahralban, for monetary damages, pre-judgment interest, post- judgment interest, the cost incurred in the prosecution of this action, and such other and further relief as the Court may deem just and proper. COUNT XII- DEFAMATION (JOE ZAHRALBAN’S SLANDER OF JUSTIN RUMBAUGH) 165. Plaintiff Rumbaugh realle; es and re-avers the foregoing paragraphs one (1) through seventy-one (71), as if fully set forth herein for this paragraph one hundred sixty-five (165). 166. Defendant Two has published the Chief's Second Statement concerning Rumbaugh through unprivileged communications to third parties verbally. 167 The Chiefs Second Statement published by Defendant Two concerning Rumbaugh contains false statements. 168. In the alternative to paragraph 167, the statements made by Defendant Two in the Chief's Second Statement includes a series of facts stated so as to imply a defamatory connection between them or creates a defamatory implication by omitting facts, such that Defendant Two may be held responsible for the defamatory implication. The statement created, among other things, a false inuendo that Rumbaugh’s connection with the Marked-Up Photos, if any, were connected to the placement of the Noose Shaped String; that Rumbaugh’s acts and/or omissions were acts of hate; and/or that Rumbaugh lacked honor, integrity, or respect for his fellow firefighter in the context of the traditions and culture of| the City’s fire department. 169. Defendant Two made these false and defamatory statements in the Chief's Second Statement, intentionally, but at least in a negligent manner, 170. Plead in the alternative to paragraph 169, at the time of publication of the Chief's Second Statement, Defendant Two knew, or with reckless disregard had knowledge of, the false statements and ‘made these false statements with intentional malice. At the time of the Chief's Second Statement, Defendant Two certainly knew, or should have known, the fact that Rumbaugh had no connection whatsoever with the Noose Shaped String. 171 ‘The false and defamatory statements made by Defendant Two are actionable and irrespective of special harm and, given the nature of the false and defamatory statements, substantial damage and special harm to Rumbaugh was caused by the publication of the Chief's Second Statement. 172, The Chief’ ;cond Statement is defamatory and slanderous, made with the purpose of harming Rumbaugh’s reputation in the community and in his chosen profession. 173. ‘As an agent for the City, Defendant Two is jointly and severally liable to Rumbaugh for the intentional tort of defamation committed by Defendant Two. As an agent for the City, to the extent that Defendant is not jointly and severally liable, either because at all times relevant Defendant Two was not acting within the course and scope of his employment or because damage is somehow apportioned, Rumbaugh seeks damages from Defendant Two, WHEREFORE, Plaintiff, Justin Rumbaugh, respectfully requests that this Honorable Court enter judgment against the Defendant, Joseph Zahralban, for monetary damages, pre-judgment interest, post- judgment interest, the cost incurred in the prosecution of this action, and such other and further r the Court may deem just and proper. DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL 174, Plaintiffs demands a trial by jury on all issues so triable. Dated: Tuesday, October 29, 2019. Respectfully Submitted by Ramon Guillen, Jr., Fla, Bar, No, 99789 Guillen & Hidalgo, P.A. 2850 S. Douglas Road, Suite 303 Coral Gables, FL 33134 Email: Ramon@GuillenHidalgo.com ‘Telephone- (305) 244-2922 Fax number- (305) 442-1727