Twitter Libel: Landlord sues tenant for $50,000

In what has to be one of the most unusual and potentially ill-advised twitter related lawsuits, a Chicago landlord sued a former tenant for $50,000 for a practically unseen twitter post – until now. “Who said sleeping in a moldy apartment was bad for you? Horizon realty thinks it’s okay,” Amanda Bonnen apparently wrote in her Twitter feed May 12 at 9:08 a.m., broadcast to her two dozen followers.

As one would expect, there is history between the parties. Amanda Bonnen filed against Horizon after an incident in March when a contractor caused a roof leak that affected some of units at 4242 N. Sheridan Road. Horizon claimed no mold was found but conceded she experienced leaking into her apartment. According to a Horizon press release, “…all tenant grievances were quickly and amicably resolved, except Ms. Bonnen’s. She moved out of her unit on her own volition June 30, 2009 at which time there was no evidence of mold in her apartment.”

Apparently in the course of due diligence for Bonnen’s action, Horizon’s lawyers discovered the offending tweet. So what did Horizon do – have a conversation with Bonnen and demand its removal? Apparently not. Jeffrey Michael, whose family has run Horizon for more than 25 years, allegedly said: “The statements are obviously false, and it’s our intention to prove that… We’re a sue first, ask questions later kind of an organization,” noting that the family manages over 1,500 apartments in Chicago and wants to preserve its good reputation.

One can only wonder whether the repercussions from the negative publicity are greater than the damages sought over this single tweet.