Horizon Group Management sues tenant for Twitter post about “moldy apartment”

Even this guy knows that Horizon's suit is a crock of shit

Even this guy knows that Horizon's suit is a crock of shit

Amanda Bonnen had 20 followers on her Twitter account. On May 12, she tweeted, “… Who said sleeping in a moldy apartment was bad for you? Horizon realty thinks it’s okay.” (Complaint at 7).

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.

10 Responses to Horizon Group Management sues tenant for Twitter post about “moldy apartment”

  1. RantBombBoy says:

    Well, if I were horizon, I would have contacted Bonnen and apologized if there was mold. And if horizon had in fact been defamed at all by the tweet, then they should have issued a statement through the press that was honest, saying that they will fix the problem.

    People have the right to express their opinions about companies, public or not. Especially if it was true, which I believe it was. Why else would horizon get on the defensive so fast?

    They are looking ever worse by the way they are handling all this.

  2. […] Horizon Group Management sues tenant for Twitter post about “moldy apartment” – The Legal Satyricon […]

  3. dgdsg says:

    I had to take a gigantic dump. It was very difficult to get it out. When It finally came, I took a close look at it. It was the Horizon spokesperson! He was stomping about, all pissed off. He threatened to sue me because I had not kept my inner bowels in a 100% perfectly mold-free condition.

    He was the cutest little thing! He had a tiny briefcase full of soiled legal papers and a tiny hat covering his bald head.

    It’s true what they say about losing things, (like small morons); Their always in the last place you look!

  4. overlooked in this case is that bonnen’s feed has since been deleted, presumably because of the lawsuit filed by horizon. the libel claims are clearly bogus, intended only to take a defensive swipe and save face. but still, at its most basic, you have a tenant making a claim of public importance against her landlord, one that is likely to be true. that speech is no doubt protected, yet what good is that protection if a company can simply file a lawsuit to scare away the speaker? sure, because of the nature of this case, it’s received international attention and the speech lives on through the conversation of others, but this is still an example of how protected speech is squelched by bs lawsuits that in most other instances would go unnoticed by the public. i look forward to the day when social media is such an accepted part of our culture that companies view public criticism as a force not to be reckoned with; or when they do decide to file bs claims, those speaking recognize the scare tactic and continue to speak anyway.

  5. I have to wonder about their attys. Sure, they can file a suit and say that damages are presumed; there are lawyers who will do that kind of thing.

    The atty should, however, had told them not to issue press releases or other statements. We all know the First Rule of Holes, and there is no way to classify that press release as other than digging.

    That’s why attys usually have their clients memorize the appropriate speech to be given in response to any queries: “no comment”.

    (I’m glad that my real estate lady is smarter than those guys in in Chicago.)

  6. […] Matthew Heller at OnPoint News has been digging further into that Chicago landlord-tenant fight that culminated in a cause celebre lawsuit over a posting on Twitter (earlier). More: Marc Randazza. […]

  7. What a joke, had Horizon not even responded, Bonnen’s tweet would have gone ignored and nothing would have come of it. I would love to see someone monetize the loss they stand to make as a result of their actions in this case! idiots

  8. […] read about it. Never fear though, there’s plenty of drama on Twitter — as we reported here, here, and some fool tried to start up here, getting Randazzapwned in the […]

%d bloggers like this: