A couple in Dallas have found themselves in some very expensive hot water, after a jury ordered them to pay over a million dollars in a defamation case brought against them by wedding photographer Andrea Polito. This story is CRAZY. It all started back in 2014, when Neely Moldovan and her husband Andrew hired Polito to photograpg their wedding. Everything seemed to be going well, until a few weeks after the ceremony.
That’s when, says Andrea Polito, things started to very, very badly.
According to Polito, Moldovan started asking when the high-resolution photos would be available. Andrea reminded the couple that, according to their contract WHICH THEY SIGNED, all images would be released upon completion of their album. Holding up the completion was the fact that the couple hadn’t yet selected and paid for an album cover. The $125 fee for the cover was apparently offensive to the couple.
They claimed that it should be included, and that it wasn’t part of the contract (it was). The studio tried to explain the contract to the couple several times. In an attempt to satisfy her clients, Andrea finally agreed to absorb the fee.
But it was too late. The couple had already begun a social media smear campaign.
In a lawsuit filed by Andrea Polito in 2015, she describes some of the horrible things said about her by the couple. Bragging that they were “pretty sure her business was done”, they trashed her all over social media and blogs. Polito says the defamatory remarks essentially ruined her business overnight.
“People knew me and my reputation. I’ve shot several of the Dallas elites,” she said. “All the name-calling, all the bullying … I was humiliated.”
Andrea tried to defend herself, but the damage had been done. As a result, she went from a fully booked calendar, to having to shut down her studio. By the time her lawsuit went to court, an analyst determined she had lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in business.
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Andrea Polito is hoping the lawsuit and verdict sends a message to others to fight for what is right. Before this whole mess, she was a successful photographer. Now, she’s determined to rebuild her business. She tells Dallas News, “No one is safe from this,” she said. “I wasn’t a new business, I was an established business with a reputation that was well-respected in the Dallas community.” Most of all, she is glad that her reputation has been restored.
The Moldovans issued a statement on the verdict Tuesday night. It reads:
“We are stunned. We did what consumer advocates say to do: When you are wronged, you fight back. We were unhappy with a situation, so we complained like anyone would. This court decision tells consumers not to speak up for fear of fat legal bills and painful judgements. If this is the cost of standing up for what’s right, we should have given in to start with. But we hope to prevail in the end.We’d love nothing more than to put this behind us and focus on raising our five month old child.”
Let this be a lesson to us all: read every contract you sign. And don’t try to ruin people’s lives over $125.
(Image: Facebook/Andrea Polito)