Minnesota Beekeeper Loses Facebook Slander Suit – Owes $370,000
If you've ever asked, "How can they get away with saying such awful things!" on social media, in some cases, they don't get away with it. For example, a jury just ruled a Minnesota beekeeper must pay $370,000 for slandering a business on Facebook.
According to a story in the Seattle Times, "a Traverse County jury made the award to Nancy and Keith Budke of Wheaton, Minnesota." In the business for over 40 years, they sold 75 Teas hives to Nick Olsen of Maple Lake.
The Bees Didn't Arrive Ready to Go Make Honey
The bees arrived dead, and Nick Olsen blamed the Budkes on Facebook for sending diseased bees to him. According to the Times, he said, "the Budkes were “screwing” him, calling them names and warning others not to buy bees from them."
The Defense Against Libel is Truth...You Gotta Have Truth On Your Side
They sued Olsen for libel, saying the bees were fine when they left their business and how Olsen handled the bees likely caused their death.
Olsen acted as his own counsel, while the Budkes hired an attorney out of Ortonville, Minnesota.
The award breakout was $105,000 for business losses caused by libel, $240,000 for loss of reputation, and $25,000 in punitive damages.
They didn't start out in court, the Budkes attorney said they tried over and over to settle the matter. In the Times, Olsen, who is going to appeal the verdict, is quoted saying, “All I can say is, I can talk about the case. I can’t talk about anything else but I can tell you that a lot of it was based on lies.”
Why Don't More Celebrities Sue?
A lot do, but, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled you have to show actual malice when it involves a public figure. But everyday regular people? They don't have that heavy burden to meet so venting and saying things that are likely to hurt their reputation or business are easier to bring action against.
This may be a good thing to remember when you're upset and want to vent. Stick to the facts, the things you know are rock-solid truth.
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