Developer Sues Real Estate Pro Over Blog

Miami developer Tibor Hollo has sued a real estate practitioner for $25 million, after the practitioner blogged that the developer went bankrupt in the 1980s and is facing financial difficulties in the current downturn.

Hollo filed the lawsuit against the firm Esslinger-Wooten-Maxwell and its associate Lucas Lechuga, alleging libel and defamation against him and his Opera Tower condo development after Lechuga’s blog predicted that at least half of the owners in the 635-unit development would default.

That followed a post in November that Hollo had filed for bankruptcy in the 1980s, an allegation that appears to be untrue.

On Monday, Esslinger-Wooten-Maxwell fired Hollo.

Robert Jarvis, a constitutional law and ethics professor at Nova Southeastern University, who isn’t involved in the case, says he doubts Lechuga will be held liable for defaming Hollo.

”Courts understand [blogs] are written in unedited, unvetted fashion,” Jarvis says. “There’s a lot of hyperbole. That’s why it’s so difficult to win defamation lawsuits.”

Source: The Miami Herald, Patrick Danner (01/29/08)