In a recent decision in Dallas, Texas District Court, a jury awarded $1,000,000 in damages to a wedding photographer due to defamatory statements published in the media, and in particular on internet sites and social media.
Every business owner fears the damage that negative comments made online can do to their reputation. With the advent of social media and ratings websites, any post can take on a life of its own, making its way around the world. In many cases there’s not much a business owner can do to combat negative opinions. However, when the posts are actually false and defamatory there may be recourse.
In this instance, an unhappy bride and groom went public with their dispute over a $125 fee with their wedding photographer. Instead of sticking to the facts, a jury found they went far beyond that. The jury’s opinion was that many of the statements, including that the photographer stole money and did this to many other customers, were malicious and defamatory. The photographer put on evidence of severe decline in revenue immediately following the statements. The jury compensated her $1,000,000 as a result.
While the case remains subject to appeal, it gives hope to business owners that enraged customers might think twice before getting carried away with online retribution. If false and defamatory statements are posted about your business online, you should consult with an attorney that practices online business defamation law to consider your options.