Fast forward to July 20, and Horizon Realty files a defamation suit based upon the tweet. According to Horizon’s complaint, it is “recognized as one of Chicago’s premiere apartment leasing and management companies because, [inter alia] it understands the importance of quality customer service…” (Complaint at 1).
Before Ms. Bonnen launched her caustic and hideous public attack, (by tweeting to 20 of her friends), Horizon “was a company of good name, fame, and reputation and was deservedly held in high esteem by and among renters, potential renters and the general public.” (Complaint at 3).
Now Horizon Realty is just known as a company that filed a defamation suit against a renter based on a tweet to 20 friends. But wait… there’s more….
According to the Wall Street Journal, Horizon claims that it discovered the tweet “while conducting due diligence on a residential landlord and tenant ordinance lawsuit filed by Ms. Bonnen.” (source) Horizon’s Jeffrey Michael is quoted as saying “We’re a sue first, ask questions later kind of an organization.”
In other words, this “organization” got sued by Bonnen and decided to swipe back at her with a frivolous defamation suit. Nothing says “we’re guilty” like a SLAPP suit. I’m not saying that Horizon did what Bonnen accused her of. In fact, I don’t know much about that suit, and I don’t rightly care. But, the defamation suit is clearly frivolous and clearly nothing more than retaliation for Bonnen’s initial landlord-tenant lawsuit.
To make things worse, Horizon has issued a press release telling its side of the story. Apparently nobody ever informed Horizon that the first step in getting out of a hole is to stop digging. While they make pretty strong statements denying the existence of mold in Ms. Bonnen’s apartment, they just don’t seem to understand that nobody cares about the alleged mold issue except Ms. Bonnen. The thing destroying Horizon’s reputation now is their blatantly frivolous anti-free-speech lawsuit.
CopyBlogger really hit the nail on the head:
Horizon Realty might be the most loveable, fair, decent and true company in the world. Right now, their name recognition has about as much appeal as Saddam Hussein. With mold.
Whether fair or not, Horizon has made a worldwide name for itself virtually instantly, connecting its brand with callous disregard for its tenants, or worse.
(Yes, there is such a thing as bad publicity. This is what it looks like.) (source)
I’m just gonna go ahead and presume that Horizon’s lawyers told them that filing this complaint was an act of abject stupidity that even Jack Thompson would mock. I simply refuse to believe that any attorney would tell their client that this was a good idea. This lawsuit scores a perfect five Floridas on the moron scale. Prior to filing the lawsuit, 20 of Bonnen’s friends had potentially read the comment. After filing the suit, the story became national news. I can’t wait to see Ms. Bonnen’s response.
Even Opie on Family guy could pwn the bejesus out of this abjectly frivolous bullshit claim.