More on Horizon Realty tweet suit–more to the story

July 30, 2009

I’m actually quite relieved to hear more of Horizon Realty’s side of the story that puts a different light on their $50,000 lawsuit against a tweeter tenant. From this ABC News article, Horizon was actually responding to a class action lawsuit filed by the tenant. According to them, there was no mold issue, but there was a leaky roof problem. Furthermore, the comment about being a sue first, ask questions later organization was apparently “taken out of context.”

It’s interesting that this story in ABC was about To 10 Social Media gaffes and the gaffe committed here according to ABC was the “snarky” post from the tweeter. Why is complaining on social media about an apartment a “gaffe?” Because it might cost you $50,000 in a lawsuit. That is a dreadful message. So, no complaints folks, don’t even think about making some nasty comment on Twitter about a company because they might sick their big legal dogs on you. Is that what you mean to say ABC?

As one commenter said, we are a sue happy country. She sued them for a bad apartment, they turned around and sued her for a tweet they didn’t like–clearly simply a legal strategy to put pressure on her to drop the class action. Why don’t we all just calm down and take all our lawyers’ phone numbers off speed dial?

But, bigger crisis communication lessons here: Can’t help but concluding yet that Horizon’s legal ploy will cost them business big time. Taking out the big legal gun against a tweeter does not fit well with the value system of the apartment dwelling younger set in Chicago. I’m suspecting many tweeters there will avoid this company–I sure would.

Second , if the “sue first, ask questions later” comment was indeed tongue in cheek and “taken out of context” that spokesperson needs some serious media training. Don’t include such foolish comments in any context. Watch out for those contexts–they’ll kill you every time. And if you were really screwed over by the reporter this way, why the heck wasn’t it all over your website or all over the news media telling the world how badly the reporter treated you? Horizon is lucky that their story fit into something ABC was doing and they gave it such a friendly treatment–ridiculously so as I pointed out. At least it gave them one more chance to try and say we’re not as sue happy as it looks and as we said we were.

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