Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Lawyer and wife win $13.8 million defamation award in non metro Texas

Last month, a jury awarded a Texas lawyer and his wife $13.78 million in damages arising from defamatory statements that defendants made about the plaintiffs, Mark and Rhonda Lesher, on the Topix forum.  Read more here.  At the time the defamatory posts were made, the plaintiffs were living and working in Clarksville, Texas, population 3,883, the county seat of Red River County, population 12,860.  Rhonda Lesher ran a spa there.  The plaintiffs alleged that, following the scurrilous allegations made about the plaintiffs, accusing them of sexual deviance and drug dealing, the plaintiffs businesses and professional reputations suffered so much that they eventually moved to neighboring Bowie County, Texas.

This all makes me wonder about the extent to which the small town milieu in Clarksville contributed to the damage done; there's little doubt that most people in Clarksville knew the Leshers before the offending statements were made and even less that they were unknown to any other residents following the statements.  On the other hand, moving to a contiguous county probably does little to launder their reputations--but maybe the $13.78 million jury vindication does that.

Read an earlier post about Topix in the context of small towns here.

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