Vet wins defamation lawsuit over Twitter and Truelocal slurs
A BRISBANE vet has been awarded $25,000 in damages from a dog owner who defamed him on Twitter, in an ominous warning for Queensland social media users.
Allen O'Grady and his businesses Albion Vet Surgery and Eatons Hill Vet Surgery were yesterday awarded the damages by District Court Judge Suzanne Sheridan after a six-year legal battle.
The court stoush erupted after Carrie Barlow, now Ms Parker-Klein, vented her frustration on Twitter, claiming the Albion Vet Surgery marked-up dog antibiotics and other drugs by 400 per cent.
Ms Parker-Klein, the owner of beagle Valentine, must pay the damages - which includes aggravated damages - for persisting in trying to rely on the defence of justification, which failed, as she maintained the vet surgery and Mr O'Grady had overcharged and had engaged in unfair business practices.
She visited the vet and was charged $427 after her dog needed to be sedated and have wounds cleaned after she was attacked by other dogs, the dog also needed take-home antibiotics.
Ms Parker-Klein admitted publishing seven separate comments on Twitter, Facebook and True Local over ten days to October 24, 2014, and admitted to the majority of the imputations that Mr O'Grady's lawyers alleged were conveyed by her, but denied her comments were defamatory.
The defamatory imputations in Parker-Klein's posts included that the surgery grossly overcharges its clients, lacks morals, takes advantage of clients, is uncaring, is petty, and lacks compassion.
"The vet is a very grumpy (sic) who should not be dealing with people or animals," Ms Parker-Klein wrote on Truelocal on October 15.
Judge Sheridan noted that in Ms Parker-Klein's evidence during the trial last year her justification for describing Mr O'Grady as a grumpy person who should not be dealing with people or animals "essentially came down to him not saying 'hello' to her at the surgery on previous visits.
On October 15, 2014 Ms Parker-Klein posted on Twitter that "Shame on you #albionvet - 400 per cent mark-up on #pet drugs after #dogattack".
Judge Sheridan said in her decision that she was not inclined to accept Parker-Klein evidence that she did online research on the price of dog antibiotics before she posted her online comments.
"I am not inclined to accept any of the evidence of (Ms Parker-Klein) at face value," Judge Sheridan noted in her decision.
Ms Parker-Klein has also been barred from publishing similar comments about Mr O'Grady or his business in the future.
During the trial Mr O'Grady said the online posts caused him tremendous stress and anxiety and his business was "inundated with nasty emails; phone calls; even abuse over the phone" and ultimately led to him deciding to sell the Albion vet surgery.
Originally published as Vet wins defamation lawsuit over Twitter, Truelocal slurs