Blogging, Defamation, Ridiculousness

Writing Mean Stuff About People on the Internet: It’s All Fun and Games Until Someone Loses $11.3 Million

big mouth.jpgThis news comes as a bummer to anyone who writes for the internet:

A Florida woman has been awarded $11.3 million in a defamation lawsuit against a Louisiana woman who posted messages on the Internet accusing her of being a “crook,” a “con artist” and a “fraud.”

Legal analysts say the Sept. 19 award by a jury in Broward County, Fla. — first reported Friday by the Daily Business Review — represents the largest such judgment over postings on an Internet blog or message board. Lyrissa Lidsky, a University of Florida law professor who specializes in free-speech issues, calls the award “astonishing.”

We agree. Eleven million dollars? You can call us whatever you like for that kind of money.
Granted, the defendant — Carey Bock, a Hurricane Katrine victim who couldn’t afford a lawyer — lost on the issue of liability because she never showed up for trial. But a jury did consider the issue of damages, before deciding to award plaintiff Sue Scheff this staggering sum.
Eleven-point-three million? Most wrongful-death awards that are smaller than that. And it’s not like Scheff is some movie star who can no longer command $10 million a picture because someone called her a child molester on a blog. She’s just a small business owner whose ex-client said some negative things about her on a random website. Jeez.
Jury Awards $11.3M Over Defamatory Internet Posts [USA Today via How Appealing]

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