DALLAS – Prominent Dallas wedding and portrait photographer Andrea Polito has secured a $1.08 million defamation verdict against two former clients who pursued an extensive social media campaign against her that a jury found was false and malicious. A Dallas County jury found that the couple, Neely and Andrew Moldovan of Dallas, wrongfully attacked Ms. Polito through social media over what they claimed were unreasonable fees associated with the delivery of their wedding photos. The focus of the dispute was the couple’s objection to the contract’s stipulation for selecting a $125 photo album cover before the images of the rehearsal dinner and wedding were provided. In a 2014 TV interview, the couple charged that Ms. Polito was holding their pictures hostage.
The Moldovans’ allegations went viral, damaging Ms. Polito’s then-thriving business. Ms. Moldovan, who maintains a lifestyle and beauty blog, said in one Facebook conversation that she was “pretty sure [Polito’s] business is done. The jury in District Judge Dale Tillery’s court deliberated for two hours before returning the verdict. Evidence presented in court affirmed that Ms. Polito followed the terms of the contract signed by the couple and even sought to further explain the contract and satisfy their demands. Jurors found the Moldovans liable for defamation, disparagement, and civil conspiracy, and awarded punitive damages.
Ms. Polito hopes this verdict will reinforce her attempts to repair her reputation, while also sending a message that freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences, said Ms. Polito’s lawyer, Dave Wishnew of Dallas-based Gruber Elrod Johansen Hail Shank LLP. Texas has one of the strongest laws in the nation to protect individuals who air legitimate grievances and opinions. But those protections don’t extend to a concerted campaign designed to defame and destroy someone’s hard-earned business, he said. The case is Andrea Polito and Andrea Polito Photography v. Neely Moldovan and Andrew Moldovan, DC-15-03069.
Gruber Elrod Johansen Hail Shank LLP represents clients in complex commercial litigation in Texas and across the nation, with extensive experience in probate, trust and fiduciary matters. Clients include leading companies and individuals as both defendants and plaintiffs across a broad range of industries. To learn more, visit http://www.getrial.com.
For more information on the verdict, contact Barry Pound at 800-559-4534 or firstname.lastname@example.org.