Fri 13 Oct 2006
A Florida woman has been awarded $11.3 million in a defamation lawsuit against a Louisiana woman who posted messages on the Internet accusing her of being a “crook,” a “con artist” and a “fraud.” Legal analysts say the Sept. 19 award by a jury in Broward County, Fla. — first reported Friday by the Daily Business Review — represents the largest such judgment over postings on an Internet blog or message board. Lyrissa Lidsky, a University of Florida law professor who specializes in free-speech issues, calls the award “astonishing.” … Scheff [plaintiff] says she wanted to make a point to those who unfairly criticize others on the Internet. “I’m sure (Bock [defendant]) doesn’t have $1 million, let alone $11 million, but the message is strong and clear,” Scheff says. “People are using the Internet to destroy people they don’t like, and you can’t do that.”
Of course the $11.3 million award is ridiculous but the precedent set here is clear. A good reminder to think twice about whatever I (and you) post online!