Twitter Defamation Case Dismissed
January 23, 2010
On Wednesday, January 20, 2010, Circuit Court of Cook County Judge Diane Larsen found that the tweet “who said sleeping in a moldy apartment was bad for you? Horizon realty thinks it’s okay,” was vague, susceptible of innocent construction and not defamatory per se as a matter of law.
The lawsuit was brought by the defendant Amanda Bonnen’s former landlord, Horizon Group Management, who claimed that the statement damaged its reputation.
Bonnen was one of several apartment dwellers who suffered damages after a contractor caused a roof leak. Horizon claimed that the leaks were fixed, that no mold existed, and that Bonnen’s comments amounted to libel per se. Horizon’s defamation lawsuit was filed in July 2009. Horizon claimed that Bonnen’s statement damaged its reputation. It claimed Bonnen "maliciously and wrongfully published the false and defamatory Tweet" and sought $50,000 in damages.
Bonnen’s defense team filed a motion to dismiss the case arguing that the tweet was not defamatory as a matter of law because the tweet was indefinite, contained no verifiable facts, was not sufficiently connected to Horizon and when considered in the context of Bonnen’s other tweets, should be subject to innocent construction. The court agreed.
Representing Bonnen pro bono were Professor Leslie Ann Reis, director of The John Marshall Law School Center for Information Technology and Privacy Law; Richard C. Balough and Cheryl Dancey Balough of Balough Law Offices LLC and Jeffrey Sobek.
Counsel was assisted by Professor Mary Nagel, Steven Tseng, Gina Spada, Eduardo Calapiz, Michelle Carey, and Danice Kern with additional research provided by Dena Elkhatib and Robert Olmstead.
Court documents can be found here: