Twitter Defamation Suit Dismissed – Tweets Are “Rambling Hyperbole”

An Illinois judge dismissed a defamation lawsuit brought by a landlord over a tenant’s Twitter post.

Apparently unhappy with her lodging, Amanda Bonnen took to her Twitter account and wrote “Who said sleeping in a moldy apartment was bad for you? Horizon realty thinks it’s okay.”

In reply, her landlord filed suit. Despite the fact that Bonnen’s Twitter account had only 20 followers, the landlord claimed that its reputation had been greatly injured and sought $50,000 in damages.

Bonnen filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that her tweet was an opinion and not a factual assertion. She claimed that based on her other tweets – such as “To run or not to run? The temp says 93. I might die out there,” and “A dog smaller than a pigeon tried to attack me this morning” – the post about her landlord “exists within a context of random and imprecise hyperbolic comments void of explanation.”

Judge Diane Larsen agreed, dismissing the suit, ruling that Bonnen’s tweet was nonactionable as a matter of law.

To read the complaint, click here.

To read the court’s opinion dismissing the suit, click here.

Why it matters: The dismissal of the suit in the early stages shows that a single blog post or tweet doesn’t necessarily result in a viable lawsuit. Social media users should, however, remain cautious of their online commentary.

 

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