Twitter has felt more like a tsunami of public relations than an actual useful development. But after it morphed from an Ashton Kutcher app to a useful tool facilitating protests of the Iranian election, we decided to take another look with particular focus on the emergence of Tweet Law, whose Marbury v. Madison moment seems to be Horizon v. Bonnen.
On May 12, Amanda Bonnen fired her 140-gauge rifle over the digital divide, posting “Who said sleeping in a moldy apartment was bad for you? Horizon realty thinks it’s okay.” Amanda had 20 followers then.
That was before her landlord sued her for $50,000 for tweeting. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/07/27/amanda-bonnen-apartment-r_n_245944.html and http://media.suntimes.com/images/cds/pdf/twitterlawsuit.pdf She may now have surpassed Kutcher in Twitterland.
The lawyer representing the [would insert bad word here but will refrain for fear of litigation] landlord is Bret A. Rappaport. http://www.hardtstern.com/attorneys/bret_rappaport.html He claims Bonnen maliciously and wrongfully composed and wrote her badtweet, and then maliciously and wrongfully published said badtweet on Twitter, allowing it to fly worldwide. (At least we know where the Iranians WON’T be renting in Chicago.)
Anyhow, Bret (who appears to go to the same hairdresser as Rod Blagojevich) helpfully attaches a series of Bonnen’s tweets, so we know, that she “lost about ten pounds in tears after seeing my sister’s keeper …”, “all of these people eating McDonalds is making me want to hurl. …” and “Pardon my language but I really have a big problem with dickheads.”
Aggravating the situation is Horizon general counsel Jeff Michael, whose family has run Horizon for 20 years. He initially told the Chicago Sun Times, “we’re a sue first and ask questions later kind of organization.” http://www.suntimes.com/news/24-7/1687436,CST-NWS-twitter28web.article. He later amended the statement to the Wall Street Journal’s Ashby Jones, among others. http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2009/07/28/sue-first-ask-questions-later-not-so-fast-says-twitter-suit-plaintiff/. Horizon also has posted his officially sanctioned non-tweet on its site http://www.horizonrealtygroup.com/UserFiles/file/PressRelease.pdf
We’re interested in what the courts do with this, but also love the irony of a ‘write first, think about it later’ publishing app being sued by an old school real estate organization who sees itself the same way.
Bonnen was previously embroiled in a dispute with Horizon and has moved out.