Real estate blogger being sued for $25m for alleged libel

Filed as News on February 4, 2008 6:38 pm

Seems you have to be very careful what you blog for. Even if your life isn’t in danger, your wallet could be.

Reports suggest that a Miami-based Real Estate developer is being sued for twenty-five million dollars over some negative comments he made on his personal blog.

According to “How to Split an Atom”:

In a posting, he spoke poorly of the Opera Tower, a condo owned by a developer, one Tibor Hollo.

Tibor believes that Lucas’ post constitutes Libel. Lucas stated that the development company responsible for the Opera went Bankrupt during the 1980s and that future buyers should be weary [sic] of dealing with them.

Tibor says the company never went Bankrupt… and says that Lucas’ post has been seriously detrimental to his business.

Of course, anyone could have written this, though I can’t help thinking that a traditional journalist would have simply had to print a retraction.

Perhaps it’s the nature of blogs, that they “hang around” online for much longer than a print newspaper does.

With ridiculous legal challenges like this springing up, it’s not surprising that many businesses are so nervous of blogging.

Downright irresponsible blogging, like any form of public writing, should be held accountable, but surely this case is beyond a joke?

(Via How to Split an Atom)

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  1. By Mark Van Patten posted on February 4, 2008 at 8:08 pm
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    1. A newspaper journalist would have gotten the fact right about the bankruptcy. Easy to check, and editor would have demanded it.
    2. A retraction would not make a $25 million lawsuit go away. Don’t kid yourself.
    3. In the future, where do you think people will discover this libel, on an obscure blog, or in the newspaper of record archives online?

    Remember for damages to be assessed, there has to be intent to do harm. A newspaper reporter would have no such motivation. There is an old movie: Absence of Malice which applies here.
    A developer, who might be a competitor, would have such motivation to do malice – or at the very least have knowlege that such a post might be intepreted that way.

    Reply

  2. By John beckk posted on February 4, 2008 at 10:30 pm
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    Money is more important than any thing but nobody wanna see them self in trouble and post the comments related to blog and topic.

    Reply

  3. By Jonathan Bailey posted on February 4, 2008 at 11:11 pm
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    If they can show that the blogger acted with either malice or negligence, the lawsuit might be justified. Though the amount is up for debate, that’s what lawsuits are for and you typically “shoot for the moon” when filing a suit. Not only does it aid in negotiations but, hey, you might get it.

    The challenge in this case may be proving the harm. If they can find investors or business partners that were made wary by the post, then that can be done easily.

    All in all, I think we’re going to see a lot more lawsuits like this one…

    Reply

  4. By Mary Rosete posted on February 5, 2008 at 3:43 am
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    What are the advantages and disadvantages of fair use for us kindergarten educators in the future and as a future servant of God?

    Reply

  5. By csairus posted on February 5, 2008 at 3:46 am
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    There are music pieces available in the internet and a lot of people tend to copy and then later on print those pieces for their personal use,though some were offered as free. How can fair use be applicable there.

    Reply

  6. By mariella sinagose posted on February 5, 2008 at 3:47 am
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    what are the advantages and dis-advantages of fair use rights?

    Reply

  7. By mariella sinagose posted on February 5, 2008 at 3:49 am
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    what is the advantage and dis-advantage of the fair use rights?

    Reply

  8. By Judith Blanza,Cherry Bulet, ShielaBernardo, Ronalyn Bornasal, Joan Lacatan posted on February 5, 2008 at 3:49 am
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    How is plagiarism related to fair use?

    Reply

  9. By monica may ramos posted on February 5, 2008 at 3:52 am
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    I am Monica May Ramos, avid reader of your article. I have gone to your website. I am eager to know better about your article. I hope you can enlighten me moreover for me to share this insights to my classmates.It goes like this,as a future educator, how can I apply this fair in MY FUTURE career?

    Reply

  10. By Cherry Bulet posted on February 5, 2008 at 3:56 am
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    I am Cherry Bulet,a future teacher.
    I have read your article in your Blog regarding fair use, and i want to asked this question “How is Plagiarism related to fair use?”

    Reply

  11. By Brad Shorr posted on February 5, 2008 at 7:29 am
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    As I understand it, the lawsuit was filed against the blogger and the brokerage firm he worked for – a company owned by Berkshire Hathaway (Warren Buffet). I find it interesting that the blog post in question was written before the blogger went to work for this firm.

    Reply

  12. By Atlanta posted on February 9, 2008 at 1:47 am
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    Regardless of if it was an established newspaper or a blog, frivolous lawsuits are now a way of life. The Miami real estate market has tanked and this guy is looking to recover some losses any way he can. He files a 25 million dollar suit and figures that they will probably cave and settle out of court and he will walk away with a few dollars. Next Wall Street will be coming out with an investment fund to fund the pursuit of frivolous lawsuits and the returns would be shocking.

    Reply

  13. By tyty posted on February 12, 2008 at 6:19 pm
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    what is the advantage ?

    Reply

  14. By Wayne Pruner posted on February 12, 2008 at 11:47 pm
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    I hope this blogger has his facts right. I question his motivation on why he had to be so direct in his comments. Disparaging a person/company reputation is serious stuff. You have to be very careful about what you say about people now days.

    Reply

  15. By Tony Sena posted on February 13, 2008 at 9:23 am
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    This just goes to show you, if you are gonna state facts, make sure they are facts! Do your research especially if you are going to be writing something negative about someone or a company.

    Reply

  16. By Bruce Rocket posted on February 15, 2008 at 8:42 pm
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    Bloggers have to be careful – thats understood. But, the more intimidation/lawsuits, etc that goes, the more it tends to stifle free speech.

    Reply

  17. By suren posted on February 26, 2008 at 3:13 am
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    Money is more important than any thing but nobody wanna see them self in trouble and post the comments related to blog and topic. http://www.world-estate.com

    Reply

  18. By Layla posted on March 7, 2008 at 8:15 am
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    That’s a pretty interesting lawsuit. It just goes to show that the internet is overrun with these sort of blogs and someone needs to start controlling them.

    Reply

  19. By Jeeny posted on March 13, 2008 at 8:03 pm
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    I disagree, blogs are about freedom of speech. sometimes the best thing to do is ignore negative press.

    the day bloggers are scared into holding their thoughts back is the day the net looses it’s freedom of speech… imo!

    Reply

  20. By the crazy realtor posted on March 31, 2008 at 12:21 am
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    25 million for libel? well, if it was out of maliciousness and the guy lost business…then i’d see his reason for suing

    if he’s just whining cuz he got his feelings hurt then i think he should just let it go

    Reply

  21. By susi posted on March 31, 2008 at 12:23 am
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    that’s a lot of money. are there laws regarding personal blogs and libel?

    Reply

  22. By Crystal Point posted on April 2, 2008 at 6:30 pm
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    Wow, That shows you that you can never be too careful. I hope he set up a corporation for his blog, so to limit his personal liability.

    Reply

  23. By Mizzy worts posted on April 7, 2008 at 11:37 am
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    I must agree with Wayne’s comment, it could be tricky how you talk about companies.

    Reply

  24. By sta. elena posted on May 12, 2008 at 3:29 am
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    Well, getting sued by $25M will make me remove my blog if its true. Yes we have the freedom to write or express our feelings but we shouldn’t abuse it.

    Reply

  25. By will posted on May 18, 2008 at 6:32 pm
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    I know I am very careful when making comments about specific high rise developers here in Phoenix. I have heard that a couple of them are very quick to sue for damages. However, I also think that it is very valuable for potential high rise buyers to know what’s going on. Bottom line, if the blogger had only written things he or she could confirm then there would be no trouble.

    Reply

  26. By Tony Neshtyak posted on May 20, 2008 at 8:41 pm
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    I am also agree with Wayne’s comment, it could be tricky how you talk about companies.

    Reply

  27. By Shreveport Real Estate posted on June 10, 2008 at 4:44 pm
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    You definitely have to watch what you say these days, especially with companies like this…

    Reply

  28. By Australian Real Estate posted on June 13, 2008 at 7:00 am
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    As I understand it, so long as the content posted is true and that can be shown to be true, then you can’t be successfully sued. The keyword being -successfully.

    Is it the case that the presumption of innocence in the case would be with the accused and not the accuser ie the onus would be on the blogger to prove his facts if he were being sued?

    Reply

  29. By Charles posted on August 28, 2008 at 4:45 pm
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    Does anyone know the outcome of this? They aren’t the only company suing over information stated in a blog.

    Reply

  30. By Privatepoint posted on September 23, 2008 at 2:21 am
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    You just need to have the ability to back up what you say. Blogs are simply blogs, companies should chill out!

    Reply

  31. By Bill posted on April 6, 2009 at 10:46 pm
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    Was there ever a follow up to this story i rember when it happened but never got the ending

    Fort Lauderdale Real Estate Agent

    Reply

  32. By Brainerd Minnesota Real Estate Agent posted on August 13, 2009 at 9:51 am
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    I don’t think this should be a deterrent for speaking the truth. If you have a message that needs to be said.. you should say it. The amount is ludicrous. Who is this guy??

    Reply

  33. By Satılık Kiralık Daire posted on September 3, 2010 at 12:24 pm
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    what is the advantage ?

    Reply

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