Sue first, ask questions later?!
Da-amn. I don't think they need to wait around for other people to ruin their reputation - they seem perfectly capable of doing it themselves. Are those guys for real?!
Pop quiz. You find a disparaging post about your company on Twitter that's written by a client who's followed by a mere 20 people. You fear the offhand remark about the poor quality of your service could harm your company's reputation. What's the absolute worst way to make it go away? Do you: A) ignore it. B) remedy the …
Don't Horizon realise that look like bullies and now the whole internet knows how they deal with their tenants. If they'd simply asked for her to take down the tweet no one would be any the wiser instead the whole web knows and will know for some time, that will damage their reputation more.
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So they don't like a negative comment made by a customer they have failed that will be seen by no one (after all who looks up a letting agent on twitter).
So instead of offering any semblance of a good service they slap a now very public lawsuit on them. Showing not only do they dire customer service's, they own comments state they would rather sue you than ask questions and now a lot more people than ever before now know how poor they are.
Well done on doing a lot more harm than you could ever have gotten to your reputation for a simple twitter comment.
On top of that claiming 50k damages? that's hardly reasonable what with the company not being named directly. Horizon could refer to so many companies only a limited number of people who knew who that person used as a letting agent would know what that meant. Meaning that this would have had even less impact than they claim
When I website I helped set up and hosted ended up with a slightly negative comment about a pub the landlord barred all my friends and wanted to know where I lived so he could "Come and have a quiet word" with me which sort of backed up the comments made about the landlord.
If a company / person is bothered by a single tweet / website comment and claims it has damaged their business its a sign of total desperation.
The most damagiing thing to their reputation that I read in that post was:
'"We're a sue first, ask questions later kind of an organization," Jeffery Michael, whose family runs Horizon, told the Chicago Sun-Times, noting the company never asked Bonnen to take the post down.'
Unless there are people out there who like people who sue first and ask questions later?
The question is... Was the apartment mouldy, and had the landlord failed to resolve the problem?
If so it sounds to me like they are okay with their tenant sleeping in a mouldy apartment... You can't be charged with libel or defamation if the accusations are true!
Then again, I'm speaking from the UK law view point, and we are yet to completely sell out to the corporate mentality (we're working on it), so in the USA it might be completely legal for big company to drag little person through the courts and win.
they have something to hide, if they were able to pick out that comment, and knew it was directed at them, they're obviously aware of the situation, which makes the comment valid and therefore they're not entitled to any damages.
Several years the US government and many states enacted legislation prohibiting this kind of behavior, known as a S.L.A.P.P. lawsuit, Illinois was one of them. this suit will go nowhere...
Anyone shocked at the "sue first" comment should just realize that Chicago is just that kind of a place. People think NYC is harsh but New Yorkers are kindly humanitarians compared to the disgusting soul-less sharks that reside in Chicago. No wonder Blagojevich loves that town. Note to the hapless tenant being sued for 50k: sue the sausages right back; that's the only way you will get these pork-loving bluffers to back off. Note to Chicago: swine-flu=you.
So seeing as they just took this public and all that, I guess emailing them and telling them in verbatim the 1st Amendment rights and SLAPP suits. Being that im from NY does this mean it will now become a Federal case?
/Credit goes to AC Tuesday 28th July 2009 21:55 GMT for this idea.
Let the good times roll I say
So seeing as your suing a former tenet about a post on Twitter that I never heard of or saw (and probably the rest of the world), there by drawing attention to it which is more then likely to harm you more then it would have. And not to mention the classic comment ""We're a sue first, ask questions later kind of an organization," Jeffery Michael" from your owner (Boy that one is a winner), your going to sue for damages you brought upon yourself by bringing this to light. Problem is this guys and gals, I quote verbatim so sorry if this bothers you:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
and you might want to read this page FYI:
You fail :) Enjoy the adverse attention people you earned it.
BTW your more then welcome to contact me regarding this message.
Yup I just sent that to them. Lets see if I can get my name added :)
If you had just shut up and let it be, no one would have cared. Now you make a big song and dance and instead of 20 people it's more likely to be half a million and rising by the hour, who all think you're a petty vindictive company with nothing better to do than pick on it's customers.
Methinks with this much word of mouth damage, $50k could just be the tip of the financial iceberg!
If she can show that any other tenant of a Horizon apartment has a mould problem that has been reported and has yet to be resolved without the tenant being temporarily rehoused then it could be argued that Horizon are OK with that tenant living in a mouldy apartment. If that is the case then what she has reported via her twitter is accurate.
Years ago we had a rented flat with a leaking roof and later a mould problem. Time after time we reported the leak, the damp, and eventually the mould. They only really showed any interest when we took a significant chunk of mould that had grown (a kind of bracket fungus that look a little like an ear) round to their office (which was also their estate agency business) on a busy Saturday morning and asked in a loud voice if they thought it was OK to allow tenants to live in such conditions.
I feel fairly safe making these comments because it is very unlikely that anyone will remember having a blue tenant that carries a blanket everywhere. It was a long time ago.
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By putting Horizon Group Management into these responses, then anyone searching for Horizon Group Management are more likely to find that Horizon Group Management gets more hits to this site than the Horizon Group Management site, the people that sue first, ask later.
So Horizon Group Management, welcome to the world of stupid lawsuits.
Heres to Horizon Group Management and their wonderful customer service.
Lots of love
A non Horizon Group Management home dweller.
"Can you countersue Horizon for exacerbating the problem (by giving it press) and inflating the damages?"
I doubt that is itself possible (although there might be the possibility of counter suing for defamation depending on how it was taken to the press) but it is now established in courts that any "damage" by this now being global rather than just 20 wasters on twitter is the fault and responsibility of the plaintiff and any damages would only be based on the initial figure of 20 readers.
Most likely the failure to approach the defendant and give her an opportunity to remove the statement and issue a "clarification" (and the sue first statement) will harm their case far more than anything else could except of course the truth.
Not sure how things are in the US but over here truth is an absolute defence against libel and associated actions - I assume it is similar in the US.
>We're a sue first, ask questions later kind of an <del>country</del> organization...
>Here in Germany, for that statement alone the lawsuit would be thrown out and that comapny fined for abuse of the law.
I'm sure there in America they wouldn't appreciate you tarring the entire country with the same litigious brush. I mean, they'd probably sue you, etc.
Seriously, though, bit less of the extrapolation? Ta.
Now they have truly damaged their image. You should see the amount of tweets about horizon now. the mold loving company. Basically what they are pursuing is the same thing many totalitarian religions groups have been trying to do for ages, introduce blasphemy laws. Free speech goes out of the window with this lot.
hope the judge tells them where to stick their lawsuit. They cant take this case seriously.
Sounds like it is easy enough for horizon to lose it. If the apartment is moldy then there is nothing libellous about that post.
She can probably counter sue after it for emotional stress. In an all honesty I wouldn't blame her either.
Sue first ask questions later what kind of stupid company policy is that?
This is the UK, land of Healthy & Safety!
In England, you can be sued for not clearing snow off the pavement, should some errant soul slip on it.
And in Scotland, the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond simply teem with litigious types. There's an empty primary school in Midlothian whose lights burn all day, all night, all year long - for fear that a burglar may break in, and in the dark stumble injuriously on his way to the claims court. (It's a warranted fear, too: there is precedent)
So are the Americans guilty of the crime of which you accuse them? Perhaps, but careful of casting first stones - someone might pick one up and throw it right back.
Horizon Group Management, Chicago - the people that sue first, ask later - seem to have been a bit silly, don't they?
It would seem that pretty much no-one here would let or rent an appartment from Horizon Group Management site, Chicago - the people that sue first, ask later.
Hi Mum. And Mr Google bot.
They ARE landlords after all, just jack the rent up by 2000%, like any other landlord would do.
As for being OK with mold, well I think every landlord (oops, I typed landlard first. Freud, eh?) here in Australia thinks it's actually mandatory!
Airhorn, because.. well, just because.
This lady was expressing an opinion... We still have free speech here in the USA so Horizon is wasting time and money. In some places, people or groups who file frivolous lawsuits are financially responsible for all court costs for both parties. This company may be sinking it's own ship. On the other hand, be aware of what you're putting on the net. It can come back and bite you. Whatever you write will be out there for anyone and everyone to see. It is not private.
Letting agents are stupid, they make their living by telling lies and avoid providing the services that they are paid to provide.
The last one I dealt with tried to screw me over so I complained about them and had them struck off the membership of the National Association of Estate Agents, who were also a bunch of cowboys.
I hope Horizon goes bust very soon.
Hmm .. I read the press release from the company that they posted yesterday. They claim the roof had a leak in march, tenant tweeted in May, left in June with no evidence of mold in the vacated apartment (or anywhere else in the property) and sued the company. The twitter comment was turned up when they set up their defense. So, if you believe this, there wasn't any mold, they weren't stalking the tenant and the tenant was the one that took them to court in the first place. To several posters on this page .. guys .. you do actually read up the background to a story before you post, don't you?
Steady on chaps. The back story, as i understand it, is that she was already sue'ing the landlord after some water damage. The landlord did a web search on the person who was sue'ing them.
The USA is a very litigious place compared to blighty :-(
The lesson here is, if you're going to call out somebody, do it on sites that protect your anonymity. I used coolersoup.com to call out my boss on stuff too sensitive to talk about openly in the office, cc'd colleagues on the comment, and raised up a firestorm :).... and remained protected from nasty libel suits (though they say truth provides complete protection).
All of you idiots who think the first amendment to the US constitution has anything to do with this ought to try actually reading it. Where does it say anything about regulating what private corporations say or do, or how they treat religion et cetera? This is not a free-speech issue.
As to the actual situation, if I were Horizon what's-their-nuts, I wouldn't be too terribly worried. Yes, the Internet is angry at them right now, and that means what exactly to them? A bunch of phone calls, emails, comment-form submissions (which I very confidently assure you are going to /dev/null already, so y'all just have a blast with that!), and bad press. Oh, God, not that!
Y'all, this is a company which already makes its business model around screwing people who have no idea at all going in of what kind of belly-crawling evil they're dealing with; they do this because they have to know that anyone aware of their reputation will only do business with them at gunpoint. (The "sue first and ask questions later" comment is what really makes this clear; it's really, really hard to argue that a company whose representatives will take that attitude in public is simply unaware of its vileness.)
A little bad press means what to them? You think a bunch of noise on Twitter and blogs is going to significantly reduce their range of potential victims, or impact their bottom line? Let me tell you something that maybe you haven't had occasion to hear before: not everybody is on the goddamned Internet, and people who aren't on the Internet still matter -- I know that last one's a shocker, but try to encompass it, okay? So the most -- the very most -- this fifth-grade harassment campaign is going to accomplish is to maybe get a couple of two-minute stories on the five o'clock news somewhere within a hundred miles of Chicago, and that's going to be watched by maybe one one-hundredth of Horizon's potential customer base. How much effect do you really think that's likely to have on how they do business?
All that's being accomplished by any of this is to make life difficult for the lowest-level office peons at Horizon -- people who, I assure you, were hired (as cheaply as possible) for the purpose of making this sort of thing a minimal sub-nuisance at best to the people who're actually responsible for, and who really benefit from, Horizon's miserable practices. Congratulations! You've further complicated the already-miserable process of earning a minimal living -- and all for people who are completely powerless to effect the change you'd like to see! FUCK THE MAN WOOO
And you know what the other funny part here is? The Internet gets bored. Hell, the Internet gets bored *fast* -- how long'd Iran last? Two weeks, three at the outside? And only one of those really counted for anything, in the sense of people actually paying attention instead of going "Oh...yeah...Iran." The Internet got bored with the Green Revolution *real* quick. How long's this one going to last? A day? Half a day? I bet you a dollar that two-thirds of these people who've made these big deals of what they're doing -- I bet they don't even come back to this comment thread after lunch, except maybe to check and see whether anyone's been fellating them as the obvious gods among men that they are.
And it's all over a bunch of swollen smug self-righteousness, exercised on behalf of someone who's only worth even *pretending* to care about on account of being enough Like Us to use Twitter. Y'all didn't give a damn about people stuck in Chicago tenements yesterday, and y'all won't give a damn about people stuck in Chicago tenements tomorrow, and the people who own and take profits from Chicago tenements aren't going to be affected one whit in any direction by all this pointless heat and noise, and it took Twitter -- *Twitter*, for God's sake! -- to alert you to the existence of a problem that's been around since long before your grandparents were born. And now you're all fired up, gonna scream at somebody and change the whole world.
What are y'all, five? And what real difference do you honestly think you're making?
The tweet clearly falls into the "fair comment" bin. Unless Horizon can show actual malice, they are headed down shit creek sans paddle, ooh look... rapids. Add to that the fact they will have to show they have been damaged, I think this is different from UK law where I understand alleged damages are sufficient. Libel doesn't take place if everyone who reads it shrugs and says "so what" because no damage was done. Furthermore, their own comments have effectively immunized everyone else by making it so no further damage can be done to their reputation, so party on!
*disclaimer, Damn it Jim, I'm a commentard, not a lawyer!
Now, about that shit creek without a paddle icon.
>In England, you can be sued for not clearing snow off the pavement, should some errant soul
>slip on it.
Not true. That would not be your fault, as nature placed the snow there, and the pavement is council property, not the home owner...
HOWEVER - you CAN be sued if you DO clear the snow off the pavement, and THEN someone slips on it, as you are deemed to have caused the path to be a danger....
So, best not to touch the snow on your footpath but to leave it where it is...
If Horizon took shortcuts to plug the leak, then the mold is coming. Simple natural science, and the tenant would still not be libelous even with current lack of mold. I, for one, would not put it past a landlord (especially in Chicago) to cut corners on repairs. Trust me, I know from experience what corner-cutting can do. Towers Management (which operates in MN and MI), I'm looking at you! A badly-constructed not-up-to-code fireplace could have killed me and my then-partner if we weren't awake at 4AM one day. -.-
I just need to say it too!
And the award for shooting oneself in the foot with a Large Hadron Collider goes to...
"We're a sue first, ask questions later kind of an organization," Jeffery Michael, whose family runs Horizon, told the Chicago Sun-Times.
Sir, we salute you. Thankyou for giving me spasms of laughter that will last the entire day. I do hope you wont sue me for being jolly.
I've tried all manner of ways to maximize profit, but not one of them was entirely suicidal.
If I wanted to rent an aprtment in ameiriKAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA, I now know for sure not to go to these people, and that's not because of a tweet, but because of a completely media savvyless company.
Penguin, because they are obviously fuckwits.
Hadn't seen this but my landlords must have read this and taken note. I posted on twitter about their attempts to bypass the relevant legislation and impose a two month notice period on me and they then threatened to sue me for libel.
It all turned out fine after I sent them some threatening emails back and pointed out the relevant part of the law that applied. They have since claimed that it was just plain ignorance to the law rather than any sort of malicious attempt to extort an extra months rent out of me.
Of course I am fully willing to accept that Chaneys Chartered Surveyors or Sonning in Berkshire are, by their own admission, incompetent rather than malicious.
By Anonymous Coward Posted Wednesday 29th July 2009 16:43 GMT
Declare herself bankrupt and stick two fingers up at 'em.
So you propose that she ruin her own life, then declare peace with Horizon?
In case you missed it, two fingers in the US means peace. Also, declaring bankruptcy to protect yourself from a suit that you will win is probably a foolish move.
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