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Angry Towing Company Sues Student for $750k Over Facebook Page

Social networking sites are, in most parts of the world, the modern day equivalent of town halls, where people can gather round and share opinions -- as long as those opinions don't attack T&J Towing Company. The company, based in Kalamazoo, Michigan. filed a defamation of character and libel lawsuit against a Western Michigan University student who started a Facebook group called 'Kalamazoo Residents against T&J Towing.' The four page lawsuit seeks $750,000 in damages from Justin Kurtz, who maintains that the group he created only allowed for fellow students to share stories and opinions about an apparently notorious towing service. "It's not like I was making untrue claims or anything," he told WoodTV8 News. "It's not like I had control over anything that everyone had posted the whole time. I told everyone to be professional, don't post any threats. Just tell your story and that's what pretty much everyone did."

From a legal perspective, T&J's case is already pretty strange, says Cooley Law professor Curt Benson. In most defamation cases, the offended party typically has its lawyers write a letter to the accused defamer, asking him or her to take back the commentary in question. The towing company, in this case, not only bypassed that formality, but even went so far as to name an exact monetary amount of damages owed, something that Benson says is highly unusual. Citing these irregularities, as well as the difficulty in proving that Kurtz actually lied, Benson speculates that the towing company is simply aiming to send "a message to the community, 'don't say anything negative against me because I'll file a lawsuit against you.' "

Suing a student for an absurd amount of money is definitely a good way to get your company's name in the paper. All Kurtz did was try to start a conversation. If T&J was really intent on changing its image, it would've joined the group itself, and used the medium to directly engage with their disgruntled customers. Crying foul and asking a college kid to pay, on the other hand, will only fan the flames of public discontent. [From: WoodTV8; via: TheConsumerist]

Tags: defamation, DefamationLawsuit, facebook, FacebookGroups, lawsuit, libel, socialnetworking, top, towing, towing company, TowingCompany, web