False accusation made about former friend on Facebook costs a woman $500,000
While it may be cool for one to brag about oneself or keep others updated about their day-to-day activities on social media accounts, it could have also its own flipside for which one may have to pay a price. Literally!!!
Well, that’s what happened in the case of a North Carolina woman who was ordered by a judge to pay $500,000 fine for writing a post on Facebook that falsely accused an acquaintance for killing her son.
According to a lawsuit filed in North Carolina Superior Court, claims that in November 2015, Jacquelyn Hammond from Asheville posted on Facebook about someone she knew, wherein she wrote, “I didn’t get drunk and kill my kid.”
A general manager of a local radio station, Davyne Dial was the woman Hammond was referring to, who had lost her son decades ago in a gun accident involving another little boy but had nothing to do with his death.
Dial said that she know Hammond through their efforts, at one point, to gain control over the radio station. However, their friendship turned sour after a failed attempt to work together with a radio station.
Dial said she had nothing to do with Hammond’s son’s death. Therefore, she has sued Hammond for defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
Michael Wimer, Dial’s lawyer, stated in court documents that the false comment about Dial “blatantly accused (Dial) of a reprehensible felony crime of manslaughter or murder”.
Last month, in a verdict given by a Buncombe county superior court judge, Dial was awarded $250,000 in actual damages and $250,000 in punitive damages, for a total judgment of $500,000.
“This woman had been carrying on a smear campaign against me for nearly a year on social media,” said 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.”
Nesha Pai runs a Charlotte networking group with a popular Facebook page.
“I don’t think we as a society realized how impactful a social media post could be,” Pai said.
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. 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.”
A piece of advice: Be careful in what you post and read it multiple times before you post it. As they say, it’s better to be safe than sorry!!!