Twitter Lawsuit Dismissed
By Marcus Gilmer in News on Jan 21, 2010 6:40PM
Glory be, sanity reigns once again. A libel lawsuit brought by a property company against a tenant for criticizing the company via her Twitter account has been dismissed with prejudice. The company, Horizon Group Management, claimed a tweet by Amanda Bonnen on May 12, 2009 caused harm to the company's good name and sued Bonnen for $50,000. (This is the same company that admitted to being, "a sue first, ask questions later kind of an organization.") The damaging tweet: "Who said sleeping in a moldy apartment was bad for you? Horizon realty thinks it's okay."
Cook County Circuit Court Judge Diane J. Larsen made the dismissal with prejudice ruling yesterday, the key being "with prejudice," which means while Horizon can appeal the ruling (they have 30 days), they can't refile. Larsen ruled the tweet was too vague to meet the standards of libel. Leslie Ann Reis, one of Bonnen's lawyers as well as director of the Center for Information Technology and Privacy Law at John Marshall Law School, told the Tribune that Bonnen's tweet "could be innocently construed. It could be construed as her opinion...It mentioned Horizon Realty but it never specified whether it referred to Chicago or Illinois and knowing that Twitter is international, that could pertain to any company that uses the name Horizon." Horizon also failed to demonstrate actual harm caused by the statement.
And lest you worry that Bonnen had to defend herself from this stupid lawsuit out of her own pocket, Reis took the case on pro bono along with two other attorneys and a handful of law students.
Thanks for the tip, Erin!