Have you ever intentionally written something about someone online in a blog or said something about a person in a public place that was factually untrue?
If so, you could be sued for defamation of character.
That’s what happened at Frank’s Place, a restaurant in the city of Alvarado, TX.
Here’s a summary of the story as reported by the Associated Press:
Bennie Dale Morris, 75, and longtime restaurant owner Phong Van Meter, 73, are currently entangled in a classic he-said, she-said legal standoff with First Amendment implications that may wind up before the Texas Supreme Court.
At issue is whether her loud jokes in front of customers, in which she is accused of implying that Morris is gay — a suggestion that he and his friend vehemently deny — went too far.
When the joking started in 2007, Warren was going through a divorce and Morris had been single a long time.
Morris said Van Meter, who he considered a friend, would always ask him about his husband, girlfriend or wife in a loud voice so that other customers could hear, according to the article.
Morris testified that he asked Van Meter to stop the jokes because it was embarrassing and hurt his feelings.
He also worried about Van Meter's comments affecting his reputation in Alvarado, but Morris said Van Meter replied that she wouldn't stop unless Morris sued.
Morris sued her in 2009, alleging defamation of character and "intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress."
A District Court in Johnson County ordered Van Meter not only to pay him $5,000, but also not to make statements insinuating that Morris and his friend Glen Warren are "homosexual lovers."
The 10th Court of Appeals in Waco upheld the District Court ruling, leading Van Meter to appeal to the Texas Supreme Court, saying there isn't enough evidence to prove that she defamed him or caused him anguish.
The case is ongoing.
For the full story, click this link.
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