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

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

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.

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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)

View Comments (33)
  • 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.

  • 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…

  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of fair use for us kindergarten educators in the future and as a future servant of God?

  • 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.

  • How is plagiarism related to fair use?

  • 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?

  • 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?”

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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?

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