A wedding photographer based in Dallas, Texas was awarded a total of $1.08 million after winning a defamation case against her newlywed client. Andrea Polito sued the couple as her business was completely ruined after they launched an extensive shaming campaign against her via social media.
The jury found blogger Neely Moldovan and her husband, Andrew, guilty of defamation after they hurled damaging statements that led to the closure of Polito's studio. The jury also failed to find any evidence that the photographer was in the wrong, so the verdict was handed down in her favor.
Moreover, Polito said that in the 10 years before her story was broadcast on television, as told by the Moldovans, her studio was earning six figures on average. But now, in just a matter of days after the couple started their attack via the media and the internet, her business went down instantly due to false accusations.
In an open letter that was posted on Andrea Polito Photography website, Polito explained that she and her group tried to straighten things and make them right when the disagreement with the Moldovans arose. However, instead of sorting things out with them, the bride approached the media and used her social media accounts to lambast them. Neely also boasted that her story was getting featured on NBC 5.
Polito said that if the reported story had been written based on how hurt or upset she was, Neely would not have humiliated her by using false statements. The photographer went on to say that aside from the TV report, many of the bride's online posts were damaging for her business as well.
Nevertheless, Polito's lawyer, Dave Wishnew, disclosed that it only took the jury a few hours to decide on the guilty verdict for the couple. They agreed that the Moldovans should be held liable for defamation, disparagement, and civil conspiracy.
Commenting on their win, Wilshnew said, "What you say and what you post online has real-world consequences."
He added that while their side knows that Neely and Andrew Moldovan can appeal, and there would be difficulties in collecting the $1 million in damages from them, for Andrea, what the verdict has proven is more important than the monetary compensation.
"It's a number. It means (more) to me that I get my name back," she said.
The photographer hopes that her case will serve as a lesson to anyone who posts on the internet and social media.In a press release, Wilshnew further said that Polito also hopes that the verdict will help restore her good reputation and put her business back the way it was before the conflict started.
Meanwhile, the trouble between Polito and the Moldovans began in January 2015 when the newlyweds, Andrew and Neely, accused the photographer of holding their wedding photos "for ransom." The couple got upset after the photographer requested for additional $150 for the album cover.
Instead of paying, the Moldovans claimed that the fee was not written in their contract, and they already paid thousands for the photo coverage. The pair then slammed Polito and posted malicious statements on social media.
In her lawsuit filed in March 2015, Polito stated that the Moldovans' nasty smear campaign against her ended her business. She claimed that the couple even bragged that "they were pretty sure her business is done."
Finally, Neely and Andrew Moldovan's lawyer was contacted but only gave a "no comment" reply when asked about the verdict. He also revealed that the couple is not interested in speaking with the media.
[Featured Image by Spencer Platt/Getty Images]