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. icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), 28 Jul 2009 @ 12:43pm

    Mmhmm...

    "And, rather than address a concern of one of their residents, the company brought out the lawyers, and sued for over $50,000."

    FORMER resident, actually, but that isn't really the point. The way the Chicago area justice system handles real estate law is an absolute joke. They are so pro-owner as to make renter's rights laughable. In fact, in several instances that I'm personally aware of, judges have sided with landlords and property groups OVER clear Illinois law (most commonly with regard to interest payments on security deposits).

    "A little investigation reveals that the woman had all of 20 followers"

    HAD being the key word. I can assure you she has more now. I could have sworn there was some kind of effect named after this type of thing....

    ""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."

    Proof that just because you can speak doesn't mean you can be a spokesman. I have read this quote aloud to several co-workers and none of them have believed it's an actual quote. "Who would actually SAY that?" they ask.

    More to the point, Horizon Group isn't a BBB accredited business according to the BBB website, although they don't have all that terrible a rating (B-). Interestingly, they also operate Elmhurst Terrace Apts., which are right down the street from a suburb I lived in for a while, and those buildings were THE place to go if you needed drugs.

    Who said high school kids getting drugs from residents of your slum apartments is a bad thing? {Too fearful of a lack of understanding of the privacy policy on TD to post the rest of my joke, so just think it and laugh to yourself)

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