On Monday, a Chicago realty company sued Amanda Bonnen, a (reportedly former) tenant, $50,000 for libel. (Update: read the suit – pdf) The cause? She posted a tweet in May that the company considers defamation:
According to the Chicago Sun Times:
Jeffrey Michael, whose family has run Horizon for more than 25 years, said: “We’re a sue first, ask questions later kind of an organization.”
-Cockroach infestation-They could never fix the problem.
-Health code violations abound-mold, no working fire alarms, uncovered light bulbs fire hazard.
… a sheet that was stapled to my rent increase with a list of several new building code violations that have been found …
Will they sue the other Yelp commenters who are now adding links to the Bonnen story?
As others have pointed out, Bonnen had fewer than two dozen followers, so it is unlikely that her initial tweet reached a very large audience. However, the lawsuit is another matter. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it a trending topic.
If you believe that there is no such thing as bad publicity, then Horizon Realty is certainly making hay with the lawsuit. They’ve garnered headlines from around ChiTown and across the country. [I am not in this camp.]
But if it is still a “tenant market” (according to another person on Yelp), Horizon might want to rethink this “sue first” strategy. [I wouldn't rent from them, if I were in the market.]
Update: The story broke at ChicagoNow.