Missing apostrophe in Facebook post lands employee in legal hot water

Missing apostrophe in Facebook post lands NSW real estate agent in legal hot water
The NSW district court last week turned down real estate agent Anthony Zadravic’s application to dismiss the defamation case. Source: AAP
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Daily US Times: In Australia, a real estate agent’s failure to use an apostrophe in a Facebook post could prove costly after a court declined to dismiss a defamation case against him on the basis it was trivial.

Anthony Zadravic posted late on 22 October last year that another real estate agent was “selling multi million $ (sic) homes in Pearl Beach but can’t pay his employees superannuation”.

The post read: “Shame on you Stuart!!! 2 yrs and still waiting!!!”

There is a suggestion the New South Wales Central Coast realtor meant to have an apostrophe after the word employee and was only referring to his experience.

He says the Facebook post, written about 10.30pm, was deleted within 12 hours and was not capable of defaming the people as claimed.

The court resources and legal costs required to determine the claim would also be out of all proportion to the interest at stake, he claimed.

But last week, the New South Wales district court turned down his application to dismiss, pointing to the seriousness of the claims in the post and finding the alleged defamatory meanings reasonably capable of being conveyed.

Judge Judith Gibson said the difficulty for Anthony Zadravic was the use of employees in the plural as it suggests “a systematic pattern of conduct”.

On Thursday, she said: “To fail to pay one employee’s superannuation entitlement might be seen as unfortunate; to fail to pay some or all of them looks deliberate.”

She heard the estimated cost of the trial was $160,000 and if senior counsel was retained, the cost could rise $250,000.

But it was not relevant that those costs far exceeded the potential award of damages.

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