$14 Million awarded in Texas Topix Suit

$14 Million awarded in Texas Topix Suit

Posted in the West Plains Forum

Ben Matlock

Sparta, MO

#1 Apr 25, 2012

Couple win $14million after un-masking anonymous internet trolls who labeled them sexual deviants
Ruling could have effect on social networking sites such as Twitter
Internet forum forced to give up IP addresses to identify those who had posted abuse
PUBLISHED: 14:40 EST, 24 April 2012 | UPDATED: 16:23 EST, 24 April 2012

A Texan couple who were anonymously abused on an internet forum have won $13.8 million in damages for defamation - In what could be a landmark ruling for freedom of speech online.
Mark and Rhonda Lesher were awarded the sum by the District Court of Tarrant County, after being called sexual deviants, molesters and drug pushers on Topix.com boards created to discuss the couple's sexual assault arrest and trial in 2008.
The couple were cleared of all charges against them in January 2009 and subsequently the couple filed their civil lawsuit against the anonymous posters in February 2009.

Upon doing so a Texan judge ordered Topix to turn over all identifying information about the anonymous posters, including Internet Protocol (IP) addresses.
These unique numbers assigned to personal computers alerted authorities to businesses owned by the husband of the woman who accused the couple of sexual assault in 2008.
'This vindicates us,' said Mark Lesher, reported the Texarkana Gazette.
'This is vindication for all the scurrilous, vile, defamatory statements that caused us to be indicted, to be tried, that caused us to move out of town and my wife to lose her business.'

The Lesher's lawsuit investigation led to six parties being named as defendants in an amended petition, according to ABC News.
They were Shannon Coyel, the couple's accuser from the original criminal trial in 2008, her husband Gerald Coyel and his brother James Coyel.

In addition, the suit also named the business Apache Truck & Van Parts in Kennedale, Texas and two employees there Charlie and Pat Doescher.
Finding in the Lesher's favour the court has ordered Jerry Coyel to pay Mark Lesher $5.1 million for mental anguish and loss of his reputation.

Hialeah, FL

#2 Apr 25, 2012
I want to post on their home town message board whats the city? and will want to say glad you win the case, but you people wont really see that money in the light of day, since those trolls who were the ones posting shit about them, are probably poor and not rich, are just living off to paying bills and buying what they can, so you won the case all for nothing...
For Real

Ava, MO

#3 Apr 25, 2012

Montgomery, TX

#4 Apr 27, 2012
For them, I they sued Topix then they should get something.....

Victoria, TX

#5 Apr 27, 2012
Most General Liability Insurance Policies cover Defamation, Libel & Slander and Invasion of Privacy under "Personal & Advertising Injury"
I, for one, feel it is needed, as evil tongues in a civilized society can instill great harm, reputation, mental anguish by vicious falsehoods from arrogant idiots who haven't the slightest concept of our Constitutional rights, much less the harm and disgrace caused by their vanity and outright carelessness of fellow humanity.

United States

#6 May 1, 2012
Bruce wrote:
For them, I they sued Topix then they should get something.....

Arnold, MO

#7 May 9, 2012
what for

United States

#8 May 9, 2012
what wrote:
what for
For what
beentheredonetha t

Reeds Spring, MO

#9 May 12, 2012
Go them! I'm glad someone actually did something about topix. It needs to be taken down. I have personally been the victim of stuff like this before. I had people who said I did meth on here, and suddenly I had everyone in West Plains coming up to me and saying stuff about it. It also almost ruined my professional career since it got back to my boss and I was constantly forced to take "random" piss tests 2-3 times a week for a few months. All of which I passed, and even offered a spinal tap results to prove I've never done anything like that in my life.
It's truly sad people don't realize the damage this could do to someone or that they just don't care if it ruins a person's life.
Although I got the posts taken down and settled the crap with my job, I still have to hear once in while about what I was accused of doing.
I am no where near a meth head. There is no way I could do my job, and have all that I have, because I would have sold it all by now to get drugs if I was. I also would definitely not have the body I do if I did drugs, it would have ruin it too by now.

United States

#10 May 12, 2012
people making up untrue stories then hiding behind a screen name because they dont have the guts to confront the truth

Saint Louis, MO

#11 Jun 18, 2012
This is great news. I know somebody who has been a victim of a vicious cyber stalker. The cyber stalker created a blog called [desireespeakssoolisten.blogsp ot.com] and does nothing but spread vicious lies and slanders an innocent young lady. Hopefully this ruling is the beginning of the end of such horrid individuals.

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