Palm Beach Post by Kimberly Miller
July 19, 2019
Florida environmentalist Maggy Hurchalla is asking the full 4th District Court of Appeal to hear her case after a three-judge panel sided against her last month saying she should pay a Martin County-based rock mine $4.4 million.
The mine, Lake Point Restoration, sued Hurchalla in 2013 saying she acted maliciously when she emailed elected officials about concerns she had with the operations of the billionaire-backed company.
But some legal experts said Hurchalla, a Martin County commissioner from 1974 to 1994, was just exercising her right to free speech and fear the massive monetary penalty will have a chilling effect on people who want to contact representatives with grievances.
“No Florida appellate court has ever upheld a judgment directed at petitioning activity, let along such an enormous judgement on such a thin record,” the rehearing request, which was filed Monday, stated. “For many, the risk that a factual statement will be misconstrued and become the basis for multi-million dollar liability will be too great; they will be silenced.”
Lake Point, which is co-owned by former Wellington resident George Lindemann Jr., said Hurchalla had undue influence over commissioners and made two false statements about mining operations.
“Simply put, there is no constitutional right to lie,” Lake Point attorneys said in court filings. [Read More]