The court has ordered four friends to pay $340,000 in damages to Nicholas Polias, a professional poker player, for making defamatory comments about him in Las Vegas. Allegedly, the friends had called him a thief on Facebook after $2000 went missing
Polias, who sued all four for defamation of character, says that one has to “be very careful about what you write on social media.”
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In 2012, the five friends travelled to Las Vegas to play poker, but there was a misunderstanding about a missing sum of $2000 in the room that Polias shared with Tobin Ryall. The money was later found hidden in a soft toy. Later, when Polias was playing high-stakes poker at Sydney’s Star Casino, he short-changed the winner by mistake, but immediately realized the error and corrected it. However, he was upset when Ryall posted on Facebook, calling him a thief. Lee then shared the defamatory statement and both friends refused to delete the post although Polias cleared both the issues.
Judge Stephen Rotham ruled that the friends had to pay damages to Polias for “vicious and malicious” behavior against him. While Ryall has to pay $125,000, Lee has to pay $130,000.
Following the ruling, Polias said: “I’m just elated that my reputation has been restored; it’s never really been about the money; it’s just been about clearing my reputation.” Describing the incident as “a battle I will never forget” on Facebook, Polias said that one should be careful about what one posts on social networking sites as it can spread very fast and can be very damaging as it remains on the social networking site for a long time. He also wrote: “I would not wish what I have been through on my worst enemy. The judgment was true vindication and I was awarded $340,000 plus interest.”
He also said that he hopes this serves as an example for those who attempt to damage others’ reputation on social networking sites, adding that bullies should be careful about who they bully. Two more former friends of Polias, Gould and Jan have to pay $50,000 and $35,000, respectively, for spreading the message in the online poker community. According to the judge, the post reached only a few poker players, but created a huge impact and caused a lot of “hurt and distress.” He has also ordered that the defamatory post, which is still saved on Facebook, should be deleted immediately.