Georgia Court Assesses Stiff Internet Defamation Penalty Against Anonymous Poster

In Georgia’s first case to address Internet libel, the Georgia Supreme Court has awarded a plaintiff approximately $400,000 after he was victimized by an online character assassination labeling him him a “pervert” and a drug addict, and claiming that he had a criminal record that included time served in jail (Cooley v. Ballew, Ga. Super. Ct., 08-CV-648 DM, 1/13/11).  The “anonymous” defendant utilized several user-names to post the defamatory assertions.

Equally, if nor more offensive, is the fact that the defamatory material was posted immediately following the murder of plaintiff’s fiancee, by her ex-husband.  News sources have reported that the negative publicity cost plaintiff his job and severely damaged his reputation.  When questioned, the defendant admitted that her allegations were merely based upon a “feeling” and that she did not possess any proof whatsoever.

It is anticipated that this case will aid Georgia lawmakers in their efforts to solidify a state anti-cyberbullying statute.

Richard Newman, Internet Defamation AttorneyHinch Newman LLP

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