Trials & Litigation

Missing apostrophe in Facebook post leads to defamation suit

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An Australian real estate agent is facing a defamation lawsuit because of a missing apostrophe in his Facebook post.

The real estate agent, Anthony Zadravic, wrote the post last year about his former employer, Stuart Gan, and his alleged failure to pay money into Australia’s retirement system, report the New York Times and the Australian Associated Press (via the Guardian).

What’s unclear is whether Zadravic was referring to a failure to pay the money for himself or for all employees.

Zadravic didn’t include an apostrophe before the “s” in the word “employees,” suggesting that he was referring to all employees.

“Oh Stuart Gan!! Selling multi million $ homes in Pearl Beach but can’t pay his employees superannuation,” Zadravic wrote. “Shame on you Stuart!!! 2 yrs and still waiting!!!”

Zadravic removed the post about 12 hours later.

Judge Judith Gibson of the Australian state of New South Wales allowed the defamation suit to go forward in a decision last week.

“The difficulty for the plaintiff is the use of the word ‘employees’ in the plural,” Gibson wrote. “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.”

According to the New York Times, Australia has earned a reputation as the defamation capital of the world.

“Legal experts say the case of the missing apostrophe is far from surprising in Australia, which has a complex web of defamation laws and a history of awarding plaintiffs large sums of money,” the publication reports.

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