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Woman wins stunning defamation settlement

Social media can often become a feeding ground for strong opinions and escalating disagreements. Without boundaries, people may instigate large groups of followers from Ohio or across the world to join a movement or support a cause. They may also wage their private battles in the open for others to witness and take sides. In another state, two women took their deteriorating business relationship to social media, and one of them allegedly crossed the line into defamation.

The feud began after the women attempted to acquire control of a local radio station, and loyalties became divided after one of the women became station manager. Apparently, the station manager often took to Facebook to post political and local opinions and, according to the other woman, began to smear her online. Both women took their fair shots at each other until the station manager posted that the other woman had gotten drunk, resulting in the death of her child.

The station manager claims she did not realize the other woman had, in fact, lost her child when another boy accidentally shot him while playing with a gun. Having to relive the tragedy of that event was traumatic for the woman, and she filed a successful defamation lawsuit against the station manager. One law professor says the settlement amount of $500,000 is unprecedented and may send a message to others who may be tempted to post false comments on social media.

People in Ohio likely read controversial comments on social media every day. However, if someone reads something about him or herself that is damaging and untrue, there may be cause for a defamation claim. An attorney with many successes removing unwarranted online content will work to protect one's reputation.

Source: citizen-times.com, "Facebook defamation leads to $500,000 settlement in Asheville", John Boyle, Feb. 11, 2017

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