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.

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  1. identicon
    Deborah Calvert, 31 Jul 2009 @ 3:32am

    Sued over Twitter message?

    Dr Chauncey Hunker, a board member of Sun Healthcare Group Inc out of New Mexico, who operates over 200 nursing homes in the USA, stated in a letter to me that he had no problem with patients living in Sunbridge Newport with a non working HVAC system.
    In 2006 their Medical Director, Dr Scott Stoney, declared this was a contributing factor in my mother's death. Dr Hunker wrote this letter while under a Injunction with Calif State Attorney General's Office, having killed patients in Burlingame, Calif in 2000 when their HVAC system broke.
    This was willful misconduct by a board member and by the CEO. The CEO even sent an employee, Julie Campbell to apologize for SUN for damaging my mother when their b/p equip broke causing her to stroke.
    Yet two yrs later I was cheated by them out of compensation for her death, even thought I had this written evidence of their blatant disregard for human life.
    Sun Healthcare knew they owed me for my mother's death and cheated me out of an appropriate compensation. I refused to sign confidentiality agreement and therefore can make these statements.
    Beware of their nursing homes, they are slumlords.
    Deb Calvert
    Newport Beach, Calif

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