Company sues for defamation over tweet

Company sues for defamation over tweet

Summary: So Amanda Bonnen tweeted about her apartment, rented from Horizon Realty Group. She said:Who said sleeping in a moldy apartment is bad for you?

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TOPICS: Security
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So Amanda Bonnen tweeted about her apartment, rented from Horizon Realty Group. She said:

Who said sleeping in a moldy apartment is bad for you? Horizon realty thinks it's okay.

That made the realty company really mad. So they sued her for defamation to the tune of $50,000, as the Sun Times reports. In the complaint the company worries that the tweet has been "distributed throughout the world" and that it has been "greatly injured in its reputation."

That seems to me a vast overstatement. In a sea of tweets, what impact does one little comment have moving through people's screens? The plaintiff seems to overlook one critical piece of evidence of their damages:

29 Following 20 Followers

Since Amanda only has 20 followers, the defamatory statement was only distributed to 20 people. While that is enough for per se defamation, to get $50,000 the company should have to show something like actual damages. If 20 people now think badly of them, how much damage is that? I'm not saying I know the answer, but it seems like a tough argument.

In any case, the plaintiff attached a printout of her tweets, which are of the typical boring variety, but somehow focusing a case on someone's tweets makes them more interesting.

A dog smaller than a pigeon tried to attack me last night.

I look like rudolph but except it being just my nose its all over.

Pardon my language but i have a really big problem with dickheads

Whatever.

Topic: Security

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25 comments
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  • Wow.

    "Since Amanda only has 20 followers, the defamatory statement has only distributed to 20 people."

    Until you posted it in your blog just now.

    Kinda sliding a bit in the common sense department today?
    CobraA1
    • Wow, again

      So they are entitled to greater damages because of the publicity from the suit?
      The company even spoke to the Chicago Sun-Times about the case. http://www.suntimes.com/news/24-7/1687436,CST-NWS-twitter28web.article

      I believe you need to rethink the "common sense department" comment. Yours is not exactly overflowing.

      Economister
      • It's PAST time....

        It's PAST time for "loser pays" tort reform. This is just more proof of that.

        And btw, that's what's driving health-care costs up also, but nobody wants to talk about that big elephant in the room.
        SAStarling
  • Well, they do have a point...

    If I have a complaint with a company, I jump on their website and I fill out their "contact us" form, or use whatever manner they provide. But it stays between me and them. People have to learn that blabbing every little aspect from "breathing in now", to "about to blink now" can and will have consequences.

    That said, "fifty grand"? Ridiculous.
    mgp3
    • How many of....

      the 20 followers would live in and be looking for an apartment in Chicago? Probably none. Besides, IF there was mold in the apartment, she is telling the truth, which as far as I know can never be libelous.

      Regarding the rest of your comments, take a look here:

      http://www.suntimes.com/news/24-7/1687436,CST-NWS-twitter28web.article

      Economister
      • How about the part...

        ...where she says "Horizon Realty thinks it's OK". Yet, the story says she never once contacted them. She didn't show good faith. If she had contacted them, and they took steps to rectify the situation, that would mean they didn't think it's OK. Plus, how long did she live there? Was the mold there before she moved in?
        mgp3
        • It implies it.

          The tweet itself implies that she reached out to them. Either way, it's not required.

          Providing the statement is true, there is no case. If she approached the management about it and they didn't seem to care... she has every right to bitch about it.

          We have freedom of speech in this country, providing you are not lying about someone or a company- you can say just about whatever you want.
          trance2tec
          • Depends what we're talking about

            If we're talking about the defamation suit,
            whether she gave them notice is not relevant.

            If we're talking about a habitability/mold case,
            yeah, she would need to give them notice.
            rkoman@...
        • She's only got 140 characters

          This is another reason I dislike Twitter. For all we know she's got plenty of documentation showing the number of times she called Horizon, their responses, independent proof of mold, etc. Can't fit that in Twitter.

          Is the apartment moldy? I haven't read an article on this subject yet that answers that critical question. If it really is moldy, then it ain't defamation.
          CharlieSpencer
    • In cases like it shouldn't stay 'between you and them'

      Because it is usually a systemic problem when
      things like this come up. I would like to believe
      that companies 'do the right thing', however I
      have had enough experience TO THE BLEEPING
      CONTRARY that I don't trust them any farther than
      I could shot put Mount Rushmore.
      Lerianis10
      • Wow...I usually make out OK...

        While most times I'll get some sort of apology, many, many, many times I've ended up with a gift card or something. Now, I wouldn't expect that from a real estate company. However, I do still believe in at least giving them a chance to address the situation. If they choose not to, then it's on to the BBB.

        Like I wrote in the earlier post, how long did Ms. Bonnen live there? Was the mold there when she moved in? If not, could she have been the cause? There are too many variables that aren't explained.
        mgp3
  • Who cares? The 2 people that Twitter?

    Or the 5 that think Twitter is cool or relevant?
    itguy08
  • It's not defamation if it's true...

    Do we know if there really is a mold problem? If there is, doesn't this negate the suit?
    BitTwiddler
  • RE: Company sues for defamation over tweet

    There are all kinds of sites out there just for people to write reviews. If a food critic writes a column for a magazine and says the mac and cheese at some restaurant sucks, can the restaurant sue?---I don't think so, and the review could and often would result in less revenue for the restaurant. If I tell people to eat at Subway instead of Taco Bell, could Taco Bell sue me?---Again, I don't think so. I really don't believe saying off the cuff remarks about a business, especially if you have worked with that business, could be considered defamation or tortious interference.
    MadWhiteHatter
    • Opinion vs. fact

      The quality of mac and cheese is an opinion. The presence or absence of mold is an issue of demonstrable fact; it's either there in unhealthy quantities or it isn't.
      CharlieSpencer
  • This is garbage

    I really hope this suit gets thrown out. Otherwise, think of what it means. If I post a tweet saying that Acme Inc. is run by idiots and you shouldn't buy from them, they can sue me for defamation.

    wayne62682
    • It depends on how you say it...

      If you say it's run by idiots, you're stating a fact. An idiot is defined as: a person of the lowest order in a former classification of mental retardation, having a mental age of less than three years old and an intelligence quotient under 25.

      So, right then and there, you just stated something that could easily be proven false. On the other hand, if you turn it completely into opinion, like "The service I received gave me the impression they were incompetent", then you're stating opinion. And, instead of saying "People shouldn't buy from them", you could say YOU would never buy from them again and would never recommend them to anyone you know. Again, nothing defamatory. All opinion.
      mgp3
  • Never sue for libel or slander

    From the Sun Times: "According to Jeffrey Michael, whose family has run Horizon for more than 25 years, "We're a sue first, ask questions later kind of an organization."" I think that explains a lot.

    There is a quote I heard a long time ago that goes something like, "Never sue for libel or slander. In Court, it might be proven to be true."
    DT2
  • Horizon is incredibly STUPID !!!

    I don't think you could get any dumber than Horizon.... Everything those twits tweet on twitter is an opinion. Heck, everything we read is an opinion.

    Horizon just took a tweet that would have gone quietly into the night and they broadcasted it to the entire world in one of the worlds dumbest lawsuits. They are guarenteed to loose the suit. And 50,000.00 is flat out retarded.

    I could go out and start up the domain, "www.horizonrealitysucks.com" and create a page dedicated to all the horror stories about Horizon Reality and they couldn't do anything to me. Sure they could drag me into court and try to get me to stop, but they would lose and end up paying my court cost, attorney fees, and compensate me for my time and mental stress.

    Yup... Horizon Reality = LOOSERS!!!
    i8thecat
    • Learn to spell

      You make good points, sadly diminished by poor grammar.

      It's "Lose" not "Loose" and they're "Losers" not "Loosers". Loose is how your dog's collar should be around his neck. I know - I'll be a horse's ass for pointing this out - whatever. Thanks to the web we're losing (not loosing) our language. I'm just trying to slow down the inevitable.
      moucon2-mcg@...