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Online Defamation Results in $115,000 Judgment

A BC Court has found for the plaintiff, a wedding photographer, in a case of online defamation by a disgruntled customer. According to the judgment:

[104]     The inescapable conclusion is that it was, because she felt that she had not been fairly treated, and motivated by vindictiveness and distain towards the plaintiff, Emily intended to attack the plaintiff’s integrity, ethics and reputation with all her might.  Her mission was to expose what she wrongly perceived as a corrupt business.  The Publications were disseminated over the internet so that they would be read by thousands of people for the purpose of causing as much damage as possible to the reputation and ongoing business of the plaintiff.  That goal was successful.

The court awarded general damages of $75,000 for lost business, aggravated damages of $15,000, and punitive damages of $25,000 on the basis that “Emily [the defendant], and others who think it is acceptable to use the internet as a vehicle to vent their frustrations, must be given the message that there will be consequences if their publications are defamatory.

The case is one of the largest awards for online defamation in BC, and a reminder that online actions can have very real world consequences.

Read the judgment here.

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