A message sent to his nephew saying he was being cheated, when it was false, will cost a lady in Laval dearly, who was ordered to pay $ 26,000 in damages for defamation.
“It’s an expensive text, indeed. But it was sent to hurt. […] If you can take a lesson, a comment you make, even privately, can lead to condemnation. You have to be careful what you say, especially on the internet, ”recalls Maxime St-Onge, lawyer specializing in defamation cases.
It is against the backdrop of a family conflict of several years relating to an inheritance that a woman from Laval decided to taunt her nephew by writing to him, on Christmas Eve 2019, that he was “cuckolded”.
“Happy Holidays The Cuckold!” We call it the return of the pendulum … that the crisp news spread quickly [sic] “, She would have launched, according to the judgment.
The man in question, whose The newspaper preferred to keep the identity secret, was unwrapping gifts with his family when he saw the message.
“He is angry, surprised, cannot believe what he reads especially considering the provenance, but a doubt invades him. In front of his family, he questions [sa femme], the latter denies any infidelity. Everyone is uncomfortable, […] The festivities stop, ”explains judge Julie Messier in her decision.
Intentional and petty
Wanting to prove that she has nothing to be ashamed of, the wife decides to take legal action “to establish the falsity of the content of the text message and to restore her reputation”.
Listening to her testimony, the magistrate concluded that the vengeful aunt “did not demonstrate at the hearing that she had an iota of evidence” and that she had acted “intentionally, petty” to hurt her nephew.
“She did not apologize, she does not believe that her writing had consequences,” deplores Judge Messier, thus ordering her to pay $ 19,000 in moral and punitive damages. To this is added $ 7,000 for the plaintiffs ‘attorneys’ fees.
Increase in cases
However, more and more people are finding themselves in court for comments written on the internet that are defamation, explains Me Maxime St-Onge.
“We are seeing an increase in the number of cases of this kind. […] We see it a lot today, people write and share things that are not true or with the aim of causing harm, that can cause harm ”, underlines the lawyer of the firm Trivium.
If he finds the sentence of $ 26,000 a “staggering amount”, it is not uncommon for convictions to cost offenders several thousand dollars, demonstrating the seriousness of the case, he adds.