Jury: Couple who defamed Texas wedding photog must pay $1M
03 August, 2017, 01:10 | Author: Julio Duncan
A Dallas County jury has awarded a wedding photographer more than $1 million after determining a newly-married couple unhappy with her work launched a social media campaign to post falsehoods about her.
A USA couple who waged an online campaign against their wedding photographer have been ordered to pay her more than $1.2m in damages.
In a 2014 TV interview, the Moldovans said Polito was "holding their pictures hostage" and in comments that subsequently went viral online the couple also claimed that Polito "cheated" and "scammed" them. The $125 dollars was for the cost of a wedding album cover, which has a variety of iterations and so comes separately, as Polito had reportedly explained to the couple when they booked her and had outlined in their contract.
Polito said in the complaint that when she was informed of the defendants' demands, she wanted to keep her clients happy and asked for an album cover to be selected with the intent of waiving the cost.
"It's a number. It means to me that I get my name back", said Polito. When she reached out to the couple several days later, she learned they'd already contacted several news outlets to complain that she'd been "holding their photos hostage", according to the suit. Not wanting to pay the money, Polito said she eventually chose to "absorb the cost to satisfy her customers", according to the Dallas Morning News. She has also established a new non-profit foundation called SASS (Surviving After Social Shaming) to help people who have had their reputations torn down by online mobs. "They took that away from me", the photographer said to Dallas News.
Weeks after the "I dos" were said and the cake was cut, Neely began emailing the photographer about when the high-resolution photos would be available.
Attorney Dave Wishnew, who represented Polito, said it took the jury a few hours to find the couple liable for defamation, disparagement and civil conspiracy.
"Neither of us ever hoped her business is ruined, nor do we even want that", Andrew Moldovan said in 2015. It's unknown whether or not the couple will appeal the decision. When the verdict was read I felt a little bit relieved, but most importantly I feel my reputation was restored to myself.
According to the suit, the Moldovans "liked" several defamatory statements published by other internet users, including one on Yelp that accused Polito of giving the reviewer AIDS.
The NBC5 story and interview with the couple aired January 2015, at the start of Polito's primary booking season.
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