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Blogger Sued – $25 Million

Real Estate Blogger Leveled With Huge Lawsuit

f1_tibor-hollo.JPG

image: miami sun post

Pictured above is Mega Developer Tibor Hollo in the Miami Sun Post last year, who has leveled a $25 Million Defamation Suit against a Florida real estate blogger.


source Miami Herald: read full article

The Good, Bad, The Blogger

Developer Tibor Hollo has filed a $25 million defamation lawsuit against a Miami real estate agent who blogged that the octogenarian went bankrupt in the 1980s and is headed for a fall with the upheaval in the condo market.

What did the agent say?

”My opinion is that this development is doomed,” he wrote on Jan. 10.

What does the expert say?

Robert Jarvis, a constitutional law and ethics professor at Nova Southeastern University, who isn’t involved in the case, said he doubts Lechuga will be held liable.

”Courts understand [blogs] are written in unedited, unvetted fashion,” Jarvis said. “There’s a lot of hyperbole. That’s why it’s so difficult to win defamation lawsuits.”

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What does the so-called defamed say?

”I guess when you’re running a blog [you] think [you] can say anything about anybody, and that’s just not true,” Hollo said. He called the postings “plain, unadulterated lies.”

Who Wins?

I predict the agent will get off the hook, but the developer is already winning. The agent has already lost his job, and because the agent was fired is left to financially defend himself against a huge developer. This is a sad day for free speech, but a great day for the re.net. Obviously those that would minimize the re.net have failed if the reality is people are paying attention enough to care what a blogger has to say.

The Lesson?

Be careful what charge you lead. You may be right, but right is only as deep as your back pocket.

Benn Rosales is the Founder and CEO of The American Genius (AG), national news network. Before AG, he founded one of the first digital media strategy firms in the nation has received the Statesman Texas Social Media Award and is an Inman Innovator Award winner. He has consulted for numerous startups (both early- and late-stage), and is well known for organizing the digital community through popular offline events. He does not venture into the spotlight often, rather he believes his biggest accomplishments are the talent he recruits and develops, so he gives all credit to those he's empowered.

14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Mariana

    January 29, 2008 at 8:53 am

    …Yeah. Stick with market reports, neighborhood profiles, resturant reviews and surface-only opinions. Save the “plain, unadulturated lies” for when you run for President.

  2. Matthew Rathbun

    January 29, 2008 at 9:02 am

    I’ve read the article and found it interesting that the Broker terminated him for making negative comments and goes on to say that he wishes to be a positve source of informaiton. I feel that there are times when the information is just plain negative. The condition of the market being bad, is well…. what it is. I try to keep my articles informative and up with the current trends and sometimes that just bad. I’ve said in a recent post that our local market will probably get worst before it gets better. If Brokerage Firms were to firm “negative people” they would be empty!

    I do think the incorrect information regarding the BK was a bit much and he should have researched it, but even newspapers get a change to write retractions when they are incorrect.

    I don’t know… there seem to be a lot of elements here. I think sharing your opinion is ok, but you have to make sure that your supportive data (BK) is correct!

  3. Robert D. Ashby

    January 29, 2008 at 9:26 am

    If the agent did make “plain, unadulterated lies”, then he deserves everything he gets. If it was opinion, it goes kind of along with the Andy Kaufman issue. Sometimes one’s opinion and lies are along a thin line, but stating a BK that didn’t exist is black and white lying. A simple public records search should show the BK as truth or outright lie.

  4. Benn Rosales

    January 29, 2008 at 9:31 am

    Robert, unless the BK was an urban legend and the author can prove a direct source for his understanding of the facts as he stated them.

    I cannot comment on who is right or who is wrong, but I can say that my larger point was the re.net cannot be minimized and this suit proves it. What we say not only is vital, but because it is so vital we as bloggers must be cautious.

  5. Robert D. Ashby

    January 29, 2008 at 9:41 am

    Benn, you are absolutely correct. The RE.net has grown to the point we can, and will, police those blogging within it.

    I am actually planning to do a post on the “issue” as well, after I do the PR search.

  6. ines

    January 29, 2008 at 9:52 am

    You beat me to it Benn – nice reporting!! I was just going to post the whole ordeal from the beginning. The guy was fired for stating his opinion then was refired when the law suit came up. It’s an interesting turn of events because we ARE liable for what we write in our blogs but at the same time it is also our opinion.
    Do we have to write **this is our opinion** in every single line – maybe we should consider writing a release on all our blogs.

  7. Robert D. Ashby

    January 29, 2008 at 11:12 am

    BTW, I need to write a corrective note. It was not Andy Kaufman, but Todd Kaufman I meant. Sorry, but I want to avoid a lawsuit myself.

  8. Robert D. Ashby

    January 29, 2008 at 11:39 am

    PS – Sorry Andy, didn’t mean to defame you.

  9. Rhonda Porter

    January 29, 2008 at 10:18 pm

    Aren’t bankruptcy’s public record? If so, hind sight being crystal clear, shouldn’t the blogger have linked the BK to support his statement? If you’re going to make a bold statement, I think you need to back it up.

  10. Ines

    January 29, 2008 at 10:50 pm

    Rhonda – the issue is that companies come and go with obscure officials and agents of record. Not that I am implying that it happened in this situation, but I totally agree with you that heresay is not good when you make a statement of that magnitude.

  11. Principal Broker

    January 30, 2008 at 3:15 pm

    MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING! RUMORS, RUMORS AND MORE RUMORS. Anyone can have, and is entitled to, an opinion! What we have here is merely a difference of opinions.

    Some people ought to get a life of their own

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