DALLAS (WSVN) – A Texas jury has awarded a wedding photographer more than $1 million after determining a married couple spread false claims which resulted in defamation and lost revenue.
Andrew and Neely Moldovan publicly blasted Andrea Polito’s wedding photography business after she photographed their ceremony in 2014, claiming the photographer was holding their photos “hostage” and adding extra fees.
Polito states in her lawsuit the newlywed couple was unhappy over the handling and cost of their wedding photographs. They repeatedly asked that their high-resolution images be forwarded to them, but the contract required that they must first submit an order form for their wedding album.
According to Fox 5, the couple was upset over the minimum $125 charge for the cover photo for the album, which Polito proved was stated in the original contract.
“She basically didn’t read her paperwork or contract,” Polito told the Washington Post. “She just couldn’t understand why she couldn’t have her high-res images. It’s in bold in our contract.”
Polito offered to waive the $125 fee, but that did not deter the husband and wife from launching a social media campaign to disparage Polito and her business.
“We are hoping that our story makes the news and completely ruins her business,” Neely Moldovan allegedly wrote to someone, according to records that surfaced in court.
The couple took their story to a Dallas TV station, claiming Polito was “holding their pictures hostage” and that she “blatantly stole money while holding pictures ransom and then adding on extra fees,” according to the lawsuit.
The jury unanimously found that the couple acted of out malice in targeting Polito in the months following their October 2014 wedding.
Polito has not been able to photograph a wedding in two years and was forced to close her business.
“I felt completely dead. You know it was my passion and I loved my clients and I loved what I did,” she said. “My business was destroyed overnight.”
The jury determined the couple was liable for defamation, disparagement and civil conspiracy, saying they now have to pay Polito $1 million in damages.
A phone message left for the Moldovans’ attorneys was not immediately returned Tuesday. It is unclear if they intend to appeal the jury’s decision.
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