A couple who refused to pay their wedding photographer a $125 fee has been ordered by a Texas court to pay the shutterbug $1 million.
According to a story published on Tuesday by the Washington Post, Dallas couple Neely and Andrew Moldovan must pay Andrea Polito the hefty sum due to “malicious defamation” after waging a social media war against the photographer, who refused to release the images without receiving the $125 compensation.
Here’s what happened: The Moldovans hired Polito for their fall 2014 ceremony, but three months later they complained to local news stations that the photographer had refused to release the images unless they paid an additional $125 for a wedding album cover.
Per Polito’s policy, outlined in a January 2015 blog post, she sends low-resolution watermarked images to the customer for selection, and for an additional album fee (in this case, $125) high-resolution photos are bound into a book and delivered. Per local news station NBCDFW, the Moldovans found the fee unreasonable, saying in 2015, “An album comes with a cover. It’s a component of an album. It’s a book.”
According to the news station, Polito maintains that the cover fee was clearly stated in the order form; however, the Moldovans claim they didn’t receive the order form until after the wedding (the station also published a copy of the lawsuit).
The Moldovans and their supporters then took to social media to slam the photographer. Per text message records, Neely wrote, “We are hoping that our story makes the news and completely ruins her business.” And according to Polito’s blog, Neely posted online statements such as “I hope this goes viral” and “justice has been served.” According to the lawsuit, the couple bragged online that they were “pretty sure her business is done.”
As a result of the negative publicity, Polito wound up closing her business of 10 years.
Polito then sued the Moldovans, and on July 28, she won. According to NBCDFW, the jurors found the couple liable for “defamation, disparagement, and civil conspiracy.” Yahoo Style could not reach Neely or Polito for comment, but it’s unclear whether the photographer will ever see her money since the couple reserves the right to appeal the decision.
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