Landlord sues tenant over moldy Tweet
20 followers. $50k suit
Pop quiz. You find a disparaging post about your company on Twitter that's written by a client who's followed by a mere 20 people. You fear the offhand remark about the poor quality of your service could harm your company's reputation. What's the absolute worst way to make it go away?
Do you: A) ignore it. B) remedy the complaint. C) file a $50,000 libel lawsuit against the author to the sheer delight of tech hacks everywhere.
Well, the Chicago real estate firm Horizon Group Management has chosen option C.
In a lawsuit filed Monday against former tenant Amanda Bonnen, the company claims it's the victim of a deceitful Tweet stating that Horizon is OK with mold.
Nested amongst Bonnen's otherwise benign 140-character postings about catching a Cubs game or breaking a heel, there lurked an allegedly ruinous Tweet from May 12 reading: "...Who said sleeping in a moldy apartment was bad for you? Horizon realty thinks it's okay."
Horizon claims in its complaint that up to the time of the insidious Tweet, it was a "company of good name, fame, and reputation and was deservedly held in high esteem" by both renters of the Windy City and the general public alike.
Alas, Bonnen's Twitter feed followed by 20 people (according to a screenshot entered into evidence by Horizon) has "greatly injured its reputation as a landlord in Chicago." Because her Twitter feed was viewable by the public at large, it allowed the Tweet to be "distributed throughout the world" and sully Horizon's name in parts unknown.
"We're a sue first, ask questions later kind of an organization," Jeffery Michael, whose family runs Horizon, told the Chicago Sun-Times, noting the company never asked Bonnen to take the post down.
Bonnen's Twitter page has since (and probably wisely) been closed — although an impostor with the same screen name has appeared since.
Horizon is seeking damages in excess of $50,000 for the post, plus court costs and any other relief the court deems proper. A copy of the lawsuit is available here ®
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