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Chicago Resident Sued Over Moldy Tweet

140 characters could cost $50,000

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UPDATE: Horizon Realty, the company suing their former tenant over a tweet, is now a trending topic on Twitter. Some Twitterers feel the company has effectively killed their reputation. What do you think?

Horizon Realty trending Twitter topic

ORIGINAL ARTICLE: How much is a single tweet worth? Would you believe $50,000? That’s the price a Chicago based realty company is trying to get in a defamation lawsuit.

Back in May, Amanda Bonnen, did what any Twitter user does… tweeted a complaint. Below is the text from her tweet, via Chicago Bar-tender:

"@JessB123 You should just come anyway. Who said sleeping in a moldy apartment was bad for you? Horizon realty thinks it’s okay."

Though her account has since been deleted, it should be noted that at the time of this tweet Amanda had approximatley 20 followers.

Woman sued over moldy tweet

Do you think this tweet could’ve caused any damage? Tell us.

The Horizon Realty Group feels that her tweet did some damage, as they’ve filed a suit in the Cook County Circuit Court. The Chicago Sun-Times has some interesting quotes from Jeffrey Michael, whose family runs Horizon:

"The statements are obviously false, and it’s our intention to prove that … We’re a sue first, ask questions later kind of an organization."

If you wish to read the "Verified Complaint" you can go here (it’s a PDF).

Do you think we will start seeing more lawsuits from tweets? Let us know your thoughts.

Chicago Resident Sued Over Moldy Tweet
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  • http://ebook-site.com Bryan Quinn

    The act of suing and the associated publicity in this case may cause more damage than the actual tweet. I’ll say no more than this.

  • Guest

    Rather than sue, Horizon would be a lot better off if they accepted there was an issue, fixed it then tweeted about it. Unfortunately, the US a litigious society and this seems like a knee-jerk reaction from Horizon Realty. Oops… will I get sued now?

  • Guest

    If like in the rest of the world the losing party has to pay the legal expenses of the winner, America would have far less frivolous suits.

    • Guest

      I second that, it’s about time we take that bull by the horns. It’s destroying America.

  • http://roadmasterusa.com Troy

    So does that mean as a business, I can sue whoever posts a bad review online? Oh and if it’s anonymous, can I sue the site/service allowing the post to be published? Seriously, I’m looking for an answer. I think these examples are just as (libelous?) as the one mentioned in the post.

  • Eric D

    My experience on social networks seems to indicate that 99.9 percent of the time the truth is spoken. That is what is so good about Twitter and other sites like it. People express their opinion and give references. And besides isn’t there a document that protects free speech??? I think it is called the Constitution………….. duh

  • Guest

    Several courts have found that posting on the Internet is the same as publishing in the newspaper, not like a private conversation on a telephone or a handwritten letter. This determination may be complicated if the author had restricted her tweets to only her followers and there was no way for anyone else to read the tweets.

    If the author’s tweets were so-restricted, then the landlord would be hard pressed to claim damages. That the tweet was widely available and published in the above article undermines a claim to have been kept private.

    If the landlord can show that the tweet was widely available to anyone who wanted to read it, they may claim damages, much as if someone had printed the newspaper.

    I continue to be astonished at the naivety of tweeters and social media users. They are so proud to be read by many, but take no responsibility in what they write, and are astonished when there are negative consequences to their actions.

  • http://www.kettlewell.net Matthew Kettlewell

    20 followers hardly constitutes a following… more people at a fast food restaurant wouldn’t noticed her whispering it to her friends in line while waiting for dinner…

    I’d say that the realty company is taking it a little bit too personally.

  • http://brahmerconcepts.blogspot.com/ Kenneth Brahmer

    Lawyers, attorneys etc. can be mercenary gunfighters who are not concerned with justice or moral behavior. They are concerned about being paid for services and in many cases regardless of the outcome.
    Civil courts deal with disputes between individuals or organizations to attempt to have a claimed wrong remedied through an order to cease and desist, alter behavior, or award monetary damages. However, some tenant of law must apply. So it is up to congress to establish law by which such actions are restricted. The legislatures need to set or refine law which prevents anyone for suing about anything.

    Lawyers thrive on conflict. To reduce or actually resolve conflict without their services is not to their advantage. The majority of our judicial and legislative branches are lawyers. Remember that when you vote and/or run for office as a citizen (not a politician/lawyer) concerned with what is right not just legal.

  • Guest

    It seems more like the realtors saw an opportunity to turn a fast buck through the legal route than by actually doing their job properly in the first place and try to help a clearly unhappy customer.

    Sure legal precedent needs to be set regarding social networks, however she could have said that to 20 people in a physically social setting and it would just have been an opinion. Just because it’s online and the conversation can be more easily eavesdropped upon -makes very little difference. If she wanted to tell everyone on Twitter that her knickers were flaming blue – then that is her perogative … Oh except that free speech in America is dead and the constitution is just another piece of meaningless legal fluff that nobody cares about defending anymore. She’d probably offend some fat old git who’d sue her for obscenity.

    Lovely world we live in. Might as well all be dead and silent – or talking to people face to face like they did in pappy’s day.

  • http://dir4construction.com Rich Brunelle

    If you are not familiar with the workings of the Better Business Bureau, allow me to explain when getting a complaint is advantageous to a business.

    With the BBB a consumer can make a complaint regarding the service provided, and the Business can correct the problem, or comment on the unresolved issue.

    When researching a business on the BBB, a company that recieves a complaint or two, but corrects the problem is more appealing than a business without complaint. No business satisfies everybody all the time. You want to know what happened when a consumer complains. Was the company responsible and made the necessary corrections, or did tthe consumer take it in the shorts?

    Horizon has an opportunity to demonstrate themselves a responsible business, and get free media distribution of their doing so. So, why are they not doing so?

  • http://forum.caplay.com/member.php?u=41341 Enedina Ambers

    Way over my head on this. oh well ill have to stare at the net all day now.

  • http://freewpinstaller.com/ Kermit Pegeron

    I ought to say, a number of this was just somewhat a lot more than my private go, yet all in all, i liked looking at your post

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