Facebook post lands man with defamation case
BE CAREFUL what you post on Facebook or you could land up in court with a substantial defamation case against you.
A Sunshine Coast builder is suing a Gympie family for about $200,000 plus costs over a comment they posted on Facebook.
Stirling Homes owners, Peter Ross Bazzan and Karen Michelle Bazzan, lodged the civil proceedings against Roy Matheson in the Brisbane Magistrates Court in April.
The couple is based in Gympie but PRB Constructions, which trades as Stirling Homes, services Noosa and the Sunshine Coast.
The complaint concerns a Facebook post Mr Matheson put up on January 1.
The court documents assert that the post included the lines "both Peter and Karen Bazzan are compulsive liars who become very threatening and nasty when caught out and refuse to reply to correspondence and hope you just go away like a small child would".
Mr Matheson and his wife Sally have been involved in an ongoing dispute with the Bazzans over the construction of their home.
The court documents alleged that the Facebook post implied multiple meanings, including that the Bazzans' were "people of bad character", lacked moral probity, were deceitful and unethical, and unprofessional and incompetent in their roles.
The claim asserts that the Bazzans are active in their local community as members of the turf club, supporting charitable and community activities and as volunteers and claim this Facebook post defamed them.
They have sued for $50,000 each for "non-economic loss" and additional amounts for loss of profits on four lost building contracts.
The court documents claim the Facebook posts and a YouTube clip posted by Mr Matheson showing the condition of his home, caused the Bazzans to lose about $97,000 worth of profit from the four cancelled building contracts.
Mr Matheson, who lives on a disability pension, has filed his own defence as he said he could not afford a lawyer.
He argues in his defence he was expressing his own "opinion" after years of frustration trying to get responses from the Bazzans.
It states in part: "The defendant placed this post on Facebook after the plaintiffs made comments denying there were issues with the Widgee house".
He also argued the full Facebook post hadn't been included in the claim, which included an offer for the Bazzans to visit their home and view the damage.
He also argued there was no proof of the losses the Bazzans have alleged.
Repeated attempts to get comment from the Bazzans have been unsuccessful.