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July 28, 2009

Tweet Leads to Lawsuit; These Folks Never Learn

I'm always keeping an eye on defamation lawsuits filed against the little guy--particularly, and for obvious reasons, bloggers. And I did wonder a few months ago whether twittering could also lead to liability (after I tweeted that a particularly noisome critic needed a diaper change). Well, one company is going to give it a try:

Horizon Group Management LLC filed a libel lawsuit Monday against former tenant Amanda Bonnen, claiming one of her alleged Twitter posts "maliciously and wrongfully" slammed her apartment at 4242 N. Sheridan and the company managing it.

The May 12 Tweet under the handle "abonnen" reads in part: "Who said sleeping in a moldy apartment was bad for you? Horizon realty thinks it's okay."

The suit and Twitter account identifies "abonnen" as Amanda Bonnen.

Jeffrey Michael, whose family has run Horizon for more than 25 years, said: "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," he said, noting that the company manages 1,500 apartments in Chicago and has a good reputation it wants to preserve.

Like many lawsuits against people plugged into blogs or other social media, this has backfired spectacularly. "Horizon Realty" is now a trending topic on Twitter. Ms. Bonnen's potential liability (uh, damages much?) is being discussed by law blogs. And Mr. Michael's sue-first policy is getting chuckled over by a thousand people who had never heard of Horizon Realty before and who would never have heard of their allegedly moldy apartments.

Congratulations, Mr. Michael, you're an idiot. However, on behalf of lawyers everywhere: thank you!


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posted by Gabriel Malor at 04:10 PM

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