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Woman fined $500,000 for false Facebook post

2017-04-01 15:38:22
Woman fined $500,000 for false Facebook post

Thereport24.com Desk:

A woman in North Carolina of USA has been ordered by a judge to pay $500,000 for a Facebook post falsely accusing an acquaintance of killing her son.

Jacquelyn Hammond from Asheville wrote on Facebook, in 2015, of Davyne Dial: “I didn’t get drunk and kill my kid.”

Ms Dial, general manager of a local radio station, had lost her son decades ago in a gun accident involving another little boy.

She knew Hammond through their efforts, at one point, to gain control over the radio station, Ms Dial said.

But Ms Dial had nothing to do with her son’s death, so she sued Hammond for defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

Michael Wimer, Ms Dial’s lawyer, stated in court documents that the false comment about Ms Dial "blatantly accused (Dial) of a reprehensible felony crime of manslaughter or murder".

Ms Dial said her friendship with Hammond had broken down after the failed attempt to work together on the radio station.

"This woman had been carrying on a smear campaign against me for nearly a year on social media," said Ms Dial, speaking to her local newspaper after the verdict.

"And social media makes it very easy to do this. There are no filters to say whatever you think behind the safety of your screen.

“She had made other untrue statements through the years, but when this happened, it was very painful."

Last month a Buncombe county superior court judge delivered his judgment, which awarded Ms Dial $250,000 in actual damages and $250,000 in punitive damages, for a total judgment of $500,000.

Michael Green, a professor at Wake Forest University School of Law told local newspaper The Citizen Times that he was "stunned" by the settlement.

“That is extraordinarily rare to have a private defamation suit to result in a recovery of that magnitude," he said.

"I am astonished, because as I'm sure you're aware, if I whack somebody with my automobile, or somebody comes to my house and suffers a really serious injury, I'm insured for that.

“But libel is not covered by any insurance that an individual would normally have."

Missy Owen, a lawyer in North Carolina, said people should learn from Hammond's mistake.

“I think people today don’t recognise the importance of their words,” she said.

“Just because it is very easy to get your words out there does not mean you should.

“You can get in trouble anytime you make a false statement about someone else that damages their character or reputation.

“Anybody who learns about this case should think twice before angrily posting on their Facebook page about somebody else, if what they have to say is not true.”

Source: The Telegraph

Ends/thereport24.com/S/Apr 01, 2017

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