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Everybody just calm down. A Twitter user who wrote a negative tweet about mold in her apartment is now being sued for $50,000 in damages. The takeaway?
Individuals should be careful what they say in a public forum. But companies need to take a deep breath before escalating their bad publicity to the national level.
In May, Amanda Bonnen tweeted to a friend the following statement: "Who said sleeping in a moldy apartment was bad for you? Horizon realty thinks it's okay."
Ms. Bonnen has since moved out of her Horizon Group Management LLC owned apartment, but there's a chance that tweet could get very costly for her. Horizon filed a suit against her asking for $50,000 in damages yesterday because her comment "maliciously and wrongfully" slammed her management company.
Jeffrey Michael's family has run Horizon Group for over 25 years, and they took the post rather personally. Horizon manages 1,500 apartments in Chicago and felt Bonnen's micromessage was tantamount to defamation.
"The statements are obviously false, and it's our intention to prove that," Michael stated.
Meanwhile, Bonnen, whose account has since been disabled, had about 20 followers on Twitter at the time of the tweet. And as the LA Times pointed out today, most Americans don't even know what Twitter is.
But according to Michael: "We're a sue first, ask questions later kind of an organization."
That's all well and good, but thanks to this lawsuit there are a lot of people who now know about Horizon Group Management. And there are two things that they will now associate with the brand: Twitter and mold.
UPDATE: Horizon has released a statement saying that their defamation lawsuit is actually a countersuit to Bonnen's. The tenant sued Horizon after allegedly finding mold in her apartment. Horizon claims there was no mold and Bonnen's lawsuit is a manipulation of Chicago's Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance. Jeffrey Michael has also apologized for the hasty comments that he initially made about the situation: "I would first like to take this oppportunitiy to apologize for tongue in cheek comments that were made previously regarding our approach to litigation. This statement is not in line with our philosophy towards property management and was taken out of context."