Mean-spirited comments are nothing new to the internet, but sometimes online posts can have serious consequences, like when Jacquelyn Hammond of North Carolina hurled a tasteless accusation against a professional rival on Facebook, resulting in a defamation lawsuit and a $500,000 settlement, the Asheville Citizen-Times reported.
Hammond was commenting in a Facebook thread in November 2015, and directed a remark towards Davyne Dial, the general manager of a radio station over which both women were vying for control. It said, “I didn’t get drunk and kill my kid,” implying that Dial had done that. Dial’s son had died in an accidental shooting in 1976, but the boy’s mother had nothing to do with it.
Dial told the Citizen-Times, “it started sinking in that she was making this allegation on social media and that it was going out to other people, so therefore she’s telling people I got drunk and killed my child. In fact, my child was killed in an accident with another little boy, playing with guns.” She said what made it more difficult was reliving her son’s death while gathering evidence for the trial. “Basically, you get taken right back to that time,” Dial said. Still, she felt it was important to take legal action against Hammond in order to “make a statement to the community that you can’t get on social media and run your mouth without consequences.”
Hammond is certainly facing consequences, having agreed to pay half a million dollars rather than go to trial. This seems like a lot, considering that she claimed the whole thing was an accident. Her attorney argued that Hammond was engaged in two different Facebook conversations at the same time, and posted her comment in the wrong one. She said that she quickly removed the comment and reposted it in the other conversation.
Hammond’s lawyer tried to get the case dismissed, but when the court denied their motion, Hammond agreed to settle. “When she realized we were really gung-ho on going court, she decided to go ahead and sign,” Dial said.
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