A couple have been awarded damages of more than €30,000 against a neighbour who defamed them on Facebook for no apparent reason. The action was settled in Letterkenny Circuit Civil Court on Tuesday.
The defendant, who didn’t appear in court, admitted the action and had agreed to apologise unreservedly to the couple. The plaintiffs knew of no reason why he would have posted a number of attacks on both their private and business Facebook pages.
The plaintiffs screen-shotted the posts (that included accusations of adultery and comments on weight loss regimes) prior to deleting the posts and contacting the Gardai.
The plaintiffs were hurt both personally and professionally by the posts, and clients did not come back to their business due to the embarrassment caused by the posts.
The defendant accepted responsibility for the posting of the comments which he agreed were ‘irresponsible and false.’ He was ‘ashamed and embarrassed’ by the harm caused.
The judge in the case described the posts as ‘reckless and scurrilous.’ He awarded one plaintiff €20,000 in damages and the other plaintiff €12,5000 in damages and ordered that one of them received their costs in the case. He also issued a general warning that sometimes the posting of Facebook comments was a ‘highly dangerous activity.’
“People perhaps with alcohol late at night can post these remarks and injure people’s character. It is a highly dangerous activity and can result in long term hurt to families and people’s good names and this is an example of that.’ he said.