Property Management Company Sues Tenant Over Single Tweet on Twitter
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Amanda Bonnen – the woman formerly known as abonnen on Twitter – was apparently unhappy with the mold growing in the apartment which she rented from property management company Horizon Group Management LLC. Earlier this year she said as much on Twitter, tweeting a Tweet (a Twitter message) in which she said “Who said sleeping in a moldy apartment was bad for you? Horizon realty thinks it’s okay.”

Whether or not Horizon thinks that a moldy apartment is ok, they clearly think that talking about their moldy apartments isn’t – this week Horizon slapped Amanda Bonnen with a lawsuit in which they ask for $50,000 in damages for that single Tweet.

"Who said sleeping in a moldy apartment was bad for you? Horizon realty thinks it's ok."

And as if the moldy apartments, and the ridiculous lawsuit weren’t bad enough – and don’t make Horizon look bad enough – Horizon’s Jeffrey Michael, part of the family that has been at Horizon’s helm for more than two decades, explains that they not only never asked Bonnen about the statement, or to remove it, but that “We’re a sue first, ask questions later kind of an organization.”


Classy.

Fortunately for Bonnen, Michael may be a “sue first” kinda guy, but he clearly isn’t a “sue well” or even an “engage an excellent lawyer” kind of guy. In fact, the lawsuit reads like something that someone (with a larger ego than intellect) representing themselves would have written. We were honestly shocked to see a lawyer’s name attached to the pleadings.

“On or about 9:08 am on May 12, 2009, in Chicago, Illinois, Defendant maliciously and wrongfully composed and wrote a certain Tweet,” the complaint in the lawsuit, well, complains. “The Tweet contained false and defamatory matter concerning Plaintiff, namely: “…Who said sleeping in a moldy apartment was bad for you? Horizon realty thinks it’s ok.”

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Then the complaint goes on to whine that “Defendant then and there maliciously and wrongfully published the false and defamatory Tweet on Twitter, thereby allowing the Tweet to be distributed throughout the world.”

It is on this that they base their claim for damages of $50,000.

 

All the more ludicrious when you consider that Ms. Bonnen had a grand total of… wait for it .. 20 followers on Twitter.

Even if her followers were evenly distributed across all seven continents, one could hardly describe that as a “Tweet distributed throughout the world.”

Or capable of doing $50,000 in damages.

Even IF what Ms. Bonnen said weren’t true.

Because, of course, the truth is a defense to a charge of defamation.

(Nonetheless, Ms. Bonnen has since closed down her Twitter account, more’s the pity.)

And judging by the many, many comments that the story is garnering since it first broke on the Chicago Sun-Times website – some from other former Horizon tenants – the odds are quite good that Ms. Bonnen was being entirely truthful about the mold.

All that said, it is still an object lesson for the rest of us. And that lesson is, “think twice, Tweet once.”

You can read all of the comments to the original story here at the [Page no longer available – we have linked to the archive.org version instead].

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3 thoughts on “Property Management Company Sues Tenant Over Single Tweet on Twitter
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  1. She should take pictures of the mold and sue the property management company for attacking her human rights. She is paying for the apartment, and for the money that one pays for an apartment these days, a tenant should get service. The customer is always right, she is giving them her money, so she has the right to an opinion, especially if it’s true. So now it is illegal to give reviews on products? That is what this means, no freedom of speech for the truth. Someone please help this woman.

  2. At my age. Just about the time I think I have seen it all. Then something like this comes along. I am indeed at a loss for words.

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