In interesting legal news, the Sydney Morning Herald has today reported on a matter in which a woman has been ordered to pay defamation based damages to her estranged husband. And it was all because of Facebook!
The Court ordered that Robyn Greeuw pay the sum total of $12,500 to her husband, from whom she has been separated for some time. It seems the spurned wife defamed her husband, school teacher Miro Dabrowski, on her Facebook page. Ms. Greeuw claimed that Mr. Dabrowski had subjected her to physical and mental abuse.
The post was visible on Ms. Greeuw’s Facebook page for about six weeks and alleged that the couple had split “…after 18 years of suffering domestic violence and abuse”. In the end, the Court found that the wife (who represented herself during the trial) had not adequately proved that Mr. Dabrowski had indeed abused her. At the same time, the judge acknowledged significant holes in the claimant’s story.
The Court was shown personal letters dated from 2010, as evidence proving the husband’s guilt. “I guess I have a right to freak out, panic or whatever I do when things get on top of me but I don’t have the right to make my family and you suffer because of it,” Mr. Dabrowski wrote. “I am quite ashamed of taking you and life for granted and having no-one or nothing or no other means to blow off instead of making my loved ones suffer my problems.”
West Australian District Court Judge Michael Bowden eventually decided that Mr. Dabrowski’s letters related to his “internal state of mind and not any outward display of anger” but also that his “evidence in this regard lacked credibility”.
Continuing his discussion of the case, Judge Bowden added that there was “…no doubt that the post caused Mr Dabrowski personal distress, humiliation and hurt and harm to his reputation and it did cause people to ‘look at him twice’ and be more reserved about their contact with him. He is an experienced educator and is entitled to public vindication.”
This is an important and timely reminder for all Facebook users: be aware that your comments can catch up with you!
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