Sued Over Twitter Message? Can You Defame Someone In 140 Characters Or Less?

from the sue-first,-ask-questions-later dept

Tom writes in to alert us that a woman in Chicago has been sued for defamation by the company that manages her apartment over a Twitter message. The message she put on Twitter read:
"Who said sleeping in a moldy apartment was bad for you? Horizon realty thinks it's okay."
And, rather than address a concern of one of their residents, the company brought out the lawyers, and sued for over $50,000. A little investigation reveals that the woman had all of 20 followers, which makes you question just how much actual damage was done by this message.

Still, for my money, the best single paragraph/statement about Horizon Group Management has to be the following one, in the Chicago Sun-Times, quoting Jeffrey Michael, speaking for Horizon Group (and a member of the family that runs it):
"We're a sue first, ask questions later kind of an organization," he said, noting that the company manages 1,500 apartments in Chicago and has a good reputation it wants to preserve.
I'm curious as to how being a "sue first, ask questions later kind of organization" meshes with having "a good reputation it wants to preserve." I'd argue that (1) suing a tenant of a meaningless tweet (and drawing much more attention to the complaint) and (2) claiming that you're a "sue first, ask questions later kind of organization" in the national media are going to do a hell of a lot more damage to any "good reputation" (if it existed in the first place) than some random woman with 20 followers bitching about mold in her apartment.

Filed Under: apartment, defamation, lawsuits, twitter
Companies: horizon group management, twitter


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Jul 2009 @ 3:20pm

    Re:

    And the #1 Horizon Realty website result in Google is a DIFFERENT Horizon Realty company in Florida. The SECOND Google result is the Chicago-based Horizon Realty.

    So, not knowing who this person is, and what company she's talking about ... doing a blind Google search would actually make the company's competition in another market with a similar name look worse.

    So, there's no limit to the number of people who may have mistakenly thought that Horizon Realty in Florida supports mold. And 20 people would have gotten it right.

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