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$50K for a Tweet?

RE management firm files suit.

Chicago was greeted with terrible news last week. In fact, it was appalling enough that thousands of residents are thinking of boycotting a real estate management firm’s services. Horizon Realty Group LLC, an apartment leasing and management company, filed a lawsuit against one of its former tenants Amanda Bonnen who posted a “malicious” Twitter message in her now-deleted account, “abonnen”. The post that sent smoke pouring out of Horizon’s red ears reads: “Who said sleeping in a moldy apartment was bad for you? Horizon realty thinks it’s okay.”

The group’s Verified Complaint states:

“8. Defendant then and there maliciously and wrongfully published the false and defamatory Tweet on Twitter, thereby allowing the Tweet to be distributed around the world…

“10. Because the statement damaged the Plaintiff’s reputation in its business, the statement is liable per se. Damages are presumed.

“WHEREFORE, (the company) respectfully requests the that judgment be entered in its favor and against DEFENDANT, AMANDA BONNEN, in the amount in excess of $50,000 and court costs to the date of entry of judgment and the costs of suit herein, and any other relief, this court deems just and proper.”

And if this isn’t silly enough for you, the Chicago Sun Times interviewed Jeffrey Michael, general counsel for Horizon, who gave an asinine defense, “… We’re a ‘sue first, ask questions later’ kind of an organization.”

Yes, you read it right; they haven’t talked to Bonnen since she posted the Tweet on May 12. If you’re shaking your head now, we’re sure thousands of readers are doing it too.

First of all, I am still wondering why Horizon decided to magnify a short message that didn’t even reach the website’s 140-character limit. To categorize this as damaging to the company’s reputation is plain silly. If they win, then the folks at complaints.com, complaintsboard.com and other sites that promote consumer information should start packing their things. Maybe Mark Zuckerberg should create a new department for screening Facebook’s News Feed to save his site too. Then again, we doubt Horizon could win this case and we pity Bonnen for all the trouble it has caused her.

Second, doesn’t the words “freedom of speech” ring a bell in this company? And how are they so sure that only Bonnen has subjected them to public humiliation? It seems to me that they are doing a good job of humiliating themselves.

So keep your rant private or else Horizon might slap you with a complaint. After writing my opinion above I have obviously not taken my own advice, but whoever said I would stop pointing out their mistakes anyway?

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