Jacquelyn Hammond from Asheville took to the social media giant in 2015 to write on the timeline of her former friend Davyne Dial that she did not get drunk and kill her kid. The woman, who is now a resident in North Carolina, has been ordered by a judge to pay $500,000 for the post on the social networking site which falsely accused an acquaintance of killing her son.
Ms. Dial awarded $500,000 in damages
Davyne Dial, who works as a general manager of a local radio station, lost her son a long time ago in a gun accident that also involved another little boy. Ms. Dial said that she knew Hammond through their efforts “at one point, to gain control over the radio station.” However, Ms. Dial had nothing to do with the death of Hammond’s son so she sued Hammond for negligent infliction of emotional distress, defamation, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
In his court documents, Michael Wimer, Ms. Dial’s lawyer, stated that the false comment about Ms. Dial blatantly accused his client of a reprehensible felony crime of murder or manslaughter. Ms. Dial said her friendship with Hammond broke after her failed attempt to work together on the radio station.
After the verdict, while speaking to a local newspaper, Ms. Dial said, “This woman had been carrying on a smear campaign against me for nearly a year on social media. And social media makes it very easy to do this. There are no filters to say whatever you think behind the safety of your screen. She had made other untrue statements through the years, but when this happened, it was very painful.”
A Buncombe county superior court judge last month delivered his judgement that awarded Ms. Dial $250,000 in punitive damages and $250,000 in actual damages, overall $500,000.
People to learn from Hammond’s mistake: Lawyer
Michael Green, who is a professor at Wake Forest University School of Law said in an interview with local newspaper “The Citizen Times” that he was shocked by the settlement. He said that it is quite rare to have a private defamation suit to result in a recovery of that magnitude.
He added that he is astonished because he is sure everyone knows that if “I whack somebody with my automobile, or somebody comes to my house and suffers a really serious injury, I’m insured for that.”
People should learn from the mistake that Hammond made, said Missy Owen, a lawyer in North Carolina. She added that she think people do not recognize the importance of their words today. She further said that just because one can get their words out there (in public) does not mean that they should.
The lawyer said, “You can get in trouble anytime you make a false statement about someone else that damages their character or reputation.”