Cliff’s Notes Version:
Miami area real estate blogger Lucas Lechuga writes about a condo developer. Says they filed bankruptcy in the 80’s and probably will again.
Developer Tibor Hollo sues blogger for defamation. To the tune of 25 million bucks.
Agent’s broker “fires” the agent.
Phoenix Real Estate Guy’s thoughts:
This is a bit disturbing. As a real estate blogger who rarely withholds and never sugar-coats his opinion, I don’t like to see someone get sued and fired for posting what (I assume) he thought was true, and certainly not for posting his opinion.
However, the broker in question is certainly within his rights to terminate his relationship with the agent. Actually, the broker doesn’t need an excuse. The agent works as an independent contractor, but the broker is responsible for everything the agent does. (At least that’s how it works in Arizona. I suspect the same holds true in Florida).
The blogger in question, while free to express his opinion, should have done a better job vetting his story if he was going to make a claim of fact that the developer had filed bankruptcy in the past. Update: I’ve had a nice email discussion with Lucas (who I had the pleasure of meeting briefly at Inman Connect NYC) and he’s asked me to correct this statement (see, it’s easy to make mistakes…). Lucas never said the developer filed for bankruptcy, he said he “went bankrupt”. According to attorneys Lucas has been in contact with, there is a difference in the meaning between the two words.
But is that a $25 million mistake? Is that defamation? I dunno, I’m not an attorney. A law professor quoted in the Herald article doesn’t see much of a case. But as Dustin correctly points out, the damage is likely already done to the agent.
(Here is a *great* article from the Blogger’s FAQ on defamation. Should be required reading for any blogger.)
Original (albeit edited) blog post: Closing to Begin at the Opera Tower Very Soon
UPDATE: And so it begins…
Lucas Lechuga’s response on his blog. (I’d be careful what I say in print and on TV Lucas… Surely you have an attorney? If he’s not advising you to sit down and maintain the Cone of Silence…)
Other Bloggers React:
[tags]Blogger sued, real estate blogging, defamation[/tags]