How to Earn $340,000 from Facebook Posts

Photograph of Barristers and clients
Photo: Louise Hall, Sydney Morning Herald.

December 2, 2014

Last week, a colleague of ours, Bridgette Regener, Barrister (pictured, second from left), and her team were successful in defamation proceedings in the Supreme Court of NSW, on the basis of several comments made on Facebook by (now former) friends of the Plaintiff, Nicholas Polias (pictured, far right). 

The story below just goes to show how careful everyone should be about their behaviour on social media. In general terms, if a post, comment, status, photo or otherwise that is untrue and is likely to upset or in any way make someone think less of another, it could amount to actionable defamation. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other mediums are sufficient forms of publication for legal purposes. Some small companies can also bring such actions, not just individuals, and there are means to secure apologies, corrections and even some compensation without going to Court. So, if you feel that you or your business has been a victim of defamation, read on and then give us a call.

During a poker tournament in Vegas, a misunderstanding arose between the Plaintiff and the four Defendants about a relatively small amount of money. The Plaintiff subsequently posted a status on Facebook to explain his version of events. This sparked a chain of replies to that post, direct wall posts on the Plaintiff’s page and other verbal allegations and assertions to various people.

The Plaintiff claimed that, in general terms, these posts and statements implied that he was a thief, that he tried to steal money and that he lied or bent facts to conceal this. On that basis, he claimed that the Defendants had vilified him, and that his reputation amongst the poker-playing community and generally had been tarnished. The Court agreed, and ordered each of the Defendants to pay a significant sum in damages. Further still, because the Defendants had refused to remove the posts or to apologise, the Court ordered each of the Defendants to pay aggravated damages, as an additional punishment. Ultimately, Mr. Polias was awarded $340,000 for the ordeal.

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