back to article Landlord sues tenant over moldy Tweet

Pop quiz. You find a disparaging post about your company on Twitter that's written by a client who's followed by a mere 20 people. You fear the offhand remark about the poor quality of your service could harm your company's reputation. What's the absolute worst way to make it go away? Do you: A) ignore it. B) remedy the …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    Sue first, ask questions later?!

    Da-amn. I don't think they need to wait around for other people to ruin their reputation - they seem perfectly capable of doing it themselves. Are those guys for real?!

  2. Justin 3
    FAIL

    Fools

    Don't Horizon realise that look like bullies and now the whole internet knows how they deal with their tenants. If they'd simply asked for her to take down the tweet no one would be any the wiser instead the whole web knows and will know for some time, that will damage their reputation more.

  3. This post has been deleted by its author

  4. LaeMi Qian Silver badge
    Grenade

    Not too bright.

    "We're a sue first, ask questions later kind of an organization," Jeffery Michael, whose family runs Horizon, told the Chicago Sun-Times.

    So I guess he will be getting sued for disreputing the company's name next.

  5. Aaron 6

    Fail :)

    So they don't like a negative comment made by a customer they have failed that will be seen by no one (after all who looks up a letting agent on twitter).

    So instead of offering any semblance of a good service they slap a now very public lawsuit on them. Showing not only do they dire customer service's, they own comments state they would rather sue you than ask questions and now a lot more people than ever before now know how poor they are.

    Well done on doing a lot more harm than you could ever have gotten to your reputation for a simple twitter comment.

    On top of that claiming 50k damages? that's hardly reasonable what with the company not being named directly. Horizon could refer to so many companies only a limited number of people who knew who that person used as a letting agent would know what that meant. Meaning that this would have had even less impact than they claim

  6. Annihilator

    Countersuit

    Can you countersue Horizon for exacerbating the problem (by giving it press) and inflating the damages?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Is that all?

    When I website I helped set up and hosted ended up with a slightly negative comment about a pub the landlord barred all my friends and wanted to know where I lived so he could "Come and have a quiet word" with me which sort of backed up the comments made about the landlord.

    If a company / person is bothered by a single tweet / website comment and claims it has damaged their business its a sign of total desperation.

  8. Benny
    Stop

    *whaaaaaaccckkkk!*

    Thats the sound of their marketing bods facepalming..

  9. Xris M
    Flame

    I need a lawyer

    Blah blah blah. I was going to write something insightful and mildly comical but instead I just want all of these people to die.

    DIE. DIE. DIE.

  10. Lost in a maze of twisty messages, all alike.

    obspeeling

    do you perhaps mean "mouldy" ?

  11. Cameron Colley

    Talking of damaging their reputation.

    The most damagiing thing to their reputation that I read in that post was:

    '"We're a sue first, ask questions later kind of an organization," Jeffery Michael, whose family runs Horizon, told the Chicago Sun-Times, noting the company never asked Bonnen to take the post down.'

    Unless there are people out there who like people who sue first and ask questions later?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    I'm in Cyprus

    and I've just emailed "Horizon Group Management" to tell them they're stupid.

    Time for an international law case?

    Will I find plenty of expert witnesses to tell the courts they're dumb?

  13. Shingo Tamai
    WTF?

    Free speech anyone?

    Enough said.

  14. Peter H. Coffin

    @Lost

    Not in Chicago, they don't.

  15. dr_forrester

    @obspeeling

    You do. The ex-client does not. Fortunately for her, over here, the burden of proof (in re. the accuracy of the claim) is on the plaintiff (i.e. the alleged victim) in slander/libel cases. So, if she can prove they didn't do anything about her mo[u]ldy apartment, she'll win.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But...

    The question is... Was the apartment mouldy, and had the landlord failed to resolve the problem?

    If so it sounds to me like they are okay with their tenant sleeping in a mouldy apartment... You can't be charged with libel or defamation if the accusations are true!

    Then again, I'm speaking from the UK law view point, and we are yet to completely sell out to the corporate mentality (we're working on it), so in the USA it might be completely legal for big company to drag little person through the courts and win.

  17. Wallyb132
    FAIL

    Obviously...

    they have something to hide, if they were able to pick out that comment, and knew it was directed at them, they're obviously aware of the situation, which makes the comment valid and therefore they're not entitled to any damages.

    Several years the US government and many states enacted legislation prohibiting this kind of behavior, known as a S.L.A.P.P. lawsuit, Illinois was one of them. this suit will go nowhere...

  18. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Wildbank Court, Woking, Surrey.....

    is a similar place that has mould and damp problems, although Estate Agents dont tell their clients, nor do certain Landlords who pretend they are nice people !!

  19. Graham Marsden
    FAIL

    '"We're a sue first, ask questions later kind of an organization"

    I think he meant "We're a sue first, THINK later kind of an organization,"

  20. -tim
    Thumb Up

    Broke soon?

    Google for their name and Chicago and 9 out of the 1st ten are this story in some form which makes them look like scumlords. It looks like they are headed towards becoming a "Go broke and ask questions later" company.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Grenade

    Boys, that's Chicago

    Anyone shocked at the "sue first" comment should just realize that Chicago is just that kind of a place. People think NYC is harsh but New Yorkers are kindly humanitarians compared to the disgusting soul-less sharks that reside in Chicago. No wonder Blagojevich loves that town. Note to the hapless tenant being sued for 50k: sue the sausages right back; that's the only way you will get these pork-loving bluffers to back off. Note to Chicago: swine-flu=you.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Contradictory claims don't make sense

    - Horizon claims [...] it was a "company of good name, fame, and reputation and was deservedly held in high esteem"

    - "We're a sue first, ask questions later kind of an organization," - Jeffery Michael.

    I have trouble reconciling these two statements.

  23. GrantK
    FAIL

    They just never learn - the little guy now has a voice

    Just put a link to this article on twitter wit the #fail tag. How many people follow that?

  24. James O'Brien
    FAIL

    Hmm

    So seeing as they just took this public and all that, I guess emailing them and telling them in verbatim the 1st Amendment rights and SLAPP suits. Being that im from NY does this mean it will now become a Federal case?

    /Credit goes to AC Tuesday 28th July 2009 21:55 GMT for this idea.

    Let the good times roll I say

  25. James O'Brien
    Pint

    Can I be sued now too?

    So seeing as your suing a former tenet about a post on Twitter that I never heard of or saw (and probably the rest of the world), there by drawing attention to it which is more then likely to harm you more then it would have. And not to mention the classic comment ""We're a sue first, ask questions later kind of an organization," Jeffery Michael" from your owner (Boy that one is a winner), your going to sue for damages you brought upon yourself by bringing this to light. Problem is this guys and gals, I quote verbatim so sorry if this bothers you:

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    -The Constitution

    and you might want to read this page FYI:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strategic_lawsuit_against_public_participation

    You fail :) Enjoy the adverse attention people you earned it.

    BTW your more then welcome to contact me regarding this message.

    Yup I just sent that to them. Lets see if I can get my name added :)

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Megaphone

    *clap* *clap* *clap*

    Well done!

    If you had just shut up and let it be, no one would have cared. Now you make a big song and dance and instead of 20 people it's more likely to be half a million and rising by the hour, who all think you're a petty vindictive company with nothing better to do than pick on it's customers.

    Methinks with this much word of mouth damage, $50k could just be the tip of the financial iceberg!

  27. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    And here they are!

    Why not send them a message?

    http://www.horizonrealtygroup.com/contact.aspx

    I did - I can't imagine many of their 1,500 customers who have property managed by them could be happy knowing that mould is growing throughout their properties.

  28. Iggle Piggle

    Another approach for the defendent

    If she can show that any other tenant of a Horizon apartment has a mould problem that has been reported and has yet to be resolved without the tenant being temporarily rehoused then it could be argued that Horizon are OK with that tenant living in a mouldy apartment. If that is the case then what she has reported via her twitter is accurate.

    Years ago we had a rented flat with a leaking roof and later a mould problem. Time after time we reported the leak, the damp, and eventually the mould. They only really showed any interest when we took a significant chunk of mould that had grown (a kind of bracket fungus that look a little like an ear) round to their office (which was also their estate agency business) on a busy Saturday morning and asked in a loud voice if they thought it was OK to allow tenants to live in such conditions.

    I feel fairly safe making these comments because it is very unlikely that anyone will remember having a blue tenant that carries a blanket everywhere. It was a long time ago.

  29. Andy 97
    FAIL

    Shakespear

    Stratford's favourite son had it so right......

  30. JamRog
    FAIL

    So pathetic

    I'm sorry, but this Horizon place sounds quite pathetic. Was Horizon trawling Tweeter for stuff that can harm their image. I think they have caused more damage to their name and fame, by suing this person. Shame.... poor little people..

  31. Herby Silver badge

    Maybe Horizon is derived from Al Capone?

    And they enforce things in a different way. Yes, this is an OBVIOUS display of the Streisand effect, probably in ratio more so than the original.

    Selection 'A' is most likely the best option (do nothing).

  32. This post has been deleted by its author

  33. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    The great thing about Horizon Group Management is

    By putting Horizon Group Management into these responses, then anyone searching for Horizon Group Management are more likely to find that Horizon Group Management gets more hits to this site than the Horizon Group Management site, the people that sue first, ask later.

    So Horizon Group Management, welcome to the world of stupid lawsuits.

    Heres to Horizon Group Management and their wonderful customer service.

    Lots of love

    A non Horizon Group Management home dweller.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Annihilator

    "Can you countersue Horizon for exacerbating the problem (by giving it press) and inflating the damages?"

    I doubt that is itself possible (although there might be the possibility of counter suing for defamation depending on how it was taken to the press) but it is now established in courts that any "damage" by this now being global rather than just 20 wasters on twitter is the fault and responsibility of the plaintiff and any damages would only be based on the initial figure of 20 readers.

    Most likely the failure to approach the defendant and give her an opportunity to remove the statement and issue a "clarification" (and the sue first statement) will harm their case far more than anything else could except of course the truth.

    Not sure how things are in the US but over here truth is an absolute defence against libel and associated actions - I assume it is similar in the US.

  35. g e
    FAIL

    Hahaha

    Well these guys have certainly, under their own steam, brought to attention the fact that I should never ever consider using them should I ever need accom. in Chicago, mould-free or otherwise.

    Epic Fail

  36. Frank Bitterlich
    Headmaster

    Sue first...

    We're a sue first, ask questions later kind of an <del>country</del> organization...

    Here in Germany, for that statement alone the lawsuit would be thrown out and that comapny fined for abuse of the law.

  37. Saucerhead Tharpe
    FAIL

    I think they have hurt themselves

    If they have given the twitterrer no change to make redress then they might hurt the case befor eit starts.

    STARTING the case also hurts them

    Eejits

  38. Studley

    Not wanting to engage with Twitter, but....

    http://search.twitter.com/search?q=horizon+realty

    How did that move work out for you then, guys?

  39. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    A little quote

    Against man^H^H^H Horizon's stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain

  40. John A Fotheringham
    WTF?

    How on earth did they find it?

    With only 20 people following - unless one of them worked for Horizon - how did this tweet even come to their attention? I've missed something here...

  41. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: Sue first...

    >We're a sue first, ask questions later kind of an <del>country</del> organization...

    >Here in Germany, for that statement alone the lawsuit would be thrown out and that comapny fined for abuse of the law.

    I'm sure there in America they wouldn't appreciate you tarring the entire country with the same litigious brush. I mean, they'd probably sue you, etc.

    Seriously, though, bit less of the extrapolation? Ta.

  42. Portella

    Free speech? nah let have blasphemy laws put in place.

    Now they have truly damaged their image. You should see the amount of tweets about horizon now. the mold loving company. Basically what they are pursuing is the same thing many totalitarian religions groups have been trying to do for ages, introduce blasphemy laws. Free speech goes out of the window with this lot.

    hope the judge tells them where to stick their lawsuit. They cant take this case seriously.

  43. Dr Patrick J R Harkin

    Does Google index Twitter?

    If so, then the 20 followers is a red herring - it'd be found by anyone who type the company name into Google.

  44. The Dorset Rambler
    Stop

    Errr. sorry to be a wet blanket....

    But as far as I can tell the case has not yet been heard.

    And while I think it an excellent jape, would not hundreds of El Reg emails help to strengthen their [Horizon's] case???

  45. Stef 2
    FAIL

    There is such a thing as bad publicity

    Way to go Horizon, worldwide bad publicity - and all for free!

    Tards.

  46. Stef 4
    Grenade

    Sean Connery

    They pull a knife, you pull a gun.

    They post on twitter, you sue them for 50 grand.

    THAT'S the Chicago way.

  47. Jacob 1
    FAIL

    pfft let them sue

    Sounds like it is easy enough for horizon to lose it. If the apartment is moldy then there is nothing libellous about that post.

    She can probably counter sue after it for emotional stress. In an all honesty I wouldn't blame her either.

    Sue first ask questions later what kind of stupid company policy is that?

  48. Tony Paulazzo

    Well I emailed 'em too

    asking them if they were stupid, but it look like she was suing them already for the mould, so this story might run.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    Re: Sarah first

    Quite.

    This is the UK, land of Healthy & Safety!

    In England, you can be sued for not clearing snow off the pavement, should some errant soul slip on it.

    And in Scotland, the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond simply teem with litigious types. There's an empty primary school in Midlothian whose lights burn all day, all night, all year long - for fear that a burglar may break in, and in the dark stumble injuriously on his way to the claims court. (It's a warranted fear, too: there is precedent)

    So are the Americans guilty of the crime of which you accuse them? Perhaps, but careful of casting first stones - someone might pick one up and throw it right back.

  50. W

    Horizon Group Management site, Chicago - the people that sue first, ask later

    Horizon Group Management, Chicago - the people that sue first, ask later - seem to have been a bit silly, don't they?

    It would seem that pretty much no-one here would let or rent an appartment from Horizon Group Management site, Chicago - the people that sue first, ask later.

    Hi Mum. And Mr Google bot.

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