A photographer falsely accused of holding a couple’s wedding album “hostage” over an unpaid $125 fee has won more than $1 million in damages for defamation and lost business.
Andrew and Neely Moldovan, who got married in 2014 in Dallas, Texas, refused to pay the additional fee for an album cover, saying they had already given Andrea Polito $6,000 (£4,530).
The couple gave TV interviews and started a social media campaign against Ms Polito, who said the additional charge was stipulated in the contract.
She had to shut her studio after bookings dried up and was forced to live off her savings as she sued the Moldovans.
A Dallas county jury has found that the couple’s social media posts were written out of malice and found them liable for defamation, disparagement and civil conspiracy.
Ms Polito was awarded $1,080,000 (£816,156) in damages.
The court saw a post from Mr Moldovan in which he wrote of Ms Polito: “Blatantly steals money from you all while holding your pictures ransom.”
After the verdict, the photographer said: “I’m emotionally exhausted. This has been a very long battle. When the verdict was read I felt a little bit relieved, but most importantly I feel my reputation was restored to myself.
What’s been so hard the past couple of years has been feeling so ashamed of this story.”
Ms Polito’s lawyer said he expected the Moldovans to challenge the verdict.