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Mangel v. Daza

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Fort Myers Division

December 9, 2019

RYAN SEAN MANGEL, individually Plaintiff,

          OPINION AND ORDER [1]


         Before the Court is Defendant Ani Katiuska Daza's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 19) filed on November 7, 2019. Plaintiff Ryan Sean Mangel (“Mangel”) filed a Response to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Second Amended Complaint (Doc. 26) on November 21, 2019. For the following reasons, Daza's motion is granted in part and denied in part.


         Mangel sues his ex-wife, Daza, for defamation and defamation by implication. (Doc. 17). Fifteen years ago, while in Canada, the parties married and Mangel adopted Daza's son, M.M. (Id. at ¶ 11). Daza and M.M., both citizens of Venezuela, obtained permanent Canadian residency. (Id. at ¶ 12). Together Mangel and Daza had a daughter, A.M., who is a Canadian citizen. (Id. at ¶ 13).

         Mangel alleges his marriage was “difficult, rife with Daza's manipulation.” (Id. at ¶ 14). He, nevertheless, remained married to Daza, and in March 2016, relocated his family to Naples, Florida. (Id. at ¶ 15). During this time, Mangel began the process of obtaining a United States Green Card for Daza and their two children. (Id. at ¶ 17). Mangel then determined he could no longer stay married to Daza and petitioned her for a divorce. (Id. at ¶¶ 18, 20, 26). Due to the pending divorce, Daza's Green Card application was due to be cancelled. (Id. at ¶ 21). Mangel offered to move Daza and their children back to Canada where they could live lawfully, but Daza refused this offer. (Id. at ¶ 23). Daza, unsatisfied with residency in Canada, allowed her and M.M.'s Canadian residency to expire. (Id. at ¶ 24).

         Ultimately, Mangel dismissed the divorce case against Daza. (Id. at ¶ 28). Daza, however, decided to file for divorce, which became final eighteen months ago. (Id. at ¶¶ 29, 33). Mangel then began the process of renewing M.M.'s and A.M.'s United States Green Card application. (Id. at ¶ 35). Mangel alleges he consistently provided alimony and child support payments. (Id. at ¶ 36). Additionally, he asked the children to visit him on numerous occasions and offered to pay for M.M. to attend college. (Id. at ¶¶ 37-38). He states Daza refused to allow the children to visit him and M.M. declined his offer to pay for his education expenses. (Id. at ¶¶ 37-38).

         Now divorced, and lacking United States' citizenship, Daza and the children faced deportation back to Daza's home country of Venezuela. To bring the immigration crisis to light, Daza contacted the local media. (Id. at ¶¶ 40-41). Daza told the media Mangel divorced her unexpectedly and abandoned her and the children in the United States without any path to citizenship. (Id.). As discussed below, Mangel argues Daza published several defamatory statements about him to the children and/or the media, which were later broadcasted in a news story on television and the internet. (Id. at ¶¶ 39-45).

         Following the news story, Mangel filed suit against Daza for one-count of defamation. (Doc. 1). Shortly thereafter, Mangel amended his complaint, which Daza moved to dismiss. (Docs. 8; 10). Upon review of the motion, the Court determined Mangel's Amended Complaint constituted an impermissible shotgun pleading because it commingled two causes of action (defamation and defamation by implication) into one count. (Doc. 14). The Court thus allowed Mangel an opportunity to replead. (Id.). Mangel then filed a Second Amended Complaint, alleging both defamation and defamation by implication. (Doc. 17).

         Now, Daza moves to dismiss the Second Amended Complaint for failure to state a claim. (Doc. 19). For the reasons stated below, Daza's motion is granted in part and denied in part.


         When considering a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the court must accept all factual allegations as true and view them in a light most favorable to the plaintiff. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). This preferential standard of review, however, does not permit all pleadings adorned with facts to survive to the next stage of litigation. The Supreme Court has been clear on this point - a district court should dismiss a claim where a party fails to plead facts that make the claim facially plausible. See Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). A claim is facially plausible when the court can draw a reasonable inference, based on the facts pled, that the opposing party is liable for the alleged misconduct. See Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. This plausibility standard requires “more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” See id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557 (internal quotation marks omitted)).

         A. Count I: Defamation by Implication

         In Count I, Mangel brings forth a claim for defamation by implication. Defamation by implication occurs when “literally true statements are conveyed in such a way as to create a false impression[.]” Jews for Jesus, Inc. v. Rapp, 997 So.2d 1098, 1108 (Fla. 2008) (emphasis added). In particular, the tort “arises[] not from what is stated, but from what is implied when a defendant (1) juxtaposes a series of facts so as to imply a defamatory connection between them, or (2) creates a defamatory implication by omitting facts[.]” Id. at 1106 (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). Under this cause of action, a claimant “must allege that the underlying statements are true.” Klayman v. City Pages, Case No: 5:13-cv-143-Oc-22PRL, 2014 WL 12621240 (M.D. Fla. July 9, 2014).

         In the Amended Complaint, Mangel stated a hybrid one-count action of defamation and defamation by implication. (Doc. 8 at 7-8). Since the Amended Complaint constituted a shotgun pleading, the Court allowed Mangel an opportunity to replead, noting that “defamation by implication[] occurs when truthful statements create a false impression.” (Doc. 14 at 4) (emphasis added). Upon review of the Second Amended Complaint, it appears Mangel remains puzzled as to the elements of defamation by implication versus defamation. ...

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