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Jury: Couple who defamed Texas wedding photog must pay $1M

03 August 2017, 01:09 | Jermaine Blake

Couple who accused wedding photographer of holding their photos hostage in feud over $125 fee must now pay her ...

The jury found the couple liable for $1.08million in damages for their defamatory disparaging and malicious statements though they can appeal the ruling

The couple objected to paying the $125 for the cover image - despite its mention in the contract - so Polito made a decision to absorb the cost.

On Friday, more than two years after the story ran, a Dallas County jury found the couple's social media posts were done out of malice and that Polito followed the terms of her contract with the newlyweds. The jury also failed to find any evidence that the photographer was in the wrong, so the verdict was handed down in her favor.

She was forced to close her business and she told CBS DFW that she has not photographed a wedding in almost two years because of the dispute.

As a result of the negative publicity, Polito wound up closing her business of 10 years. However, instead of sorting things out with them, the bride approached the media and used her social media accounts to lambast them. She also says NBC5 didn't provide her sufficient time to respond before airing its story. She says she is doing branding work for corporate clients but hopes to slowly return to the work she loves.

The Moldovans' allegations went viral, damaging Polito's business.

According to the case Ms Moldovan said in one Facebook conversation that she was "pretty sure [Polito's] business is done".

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"When you lash out at someone with false statements, with lies and you encourage other people to do it too - you cannot only hurt a business - you can rip apart someone's life", Wishnew said.

While Wishnew knows the couple can appeal and there are challenges in collecting the $1 million dollar verdict, he and Polito feels the vindication goes beyond monetary value.

The photographer hopes that her case will serve as a lesson to anyone who posts on the internet and social media.

"Ms. Polito hopes this verdict will reinforce her attempts to fix her reputation, while also sending a message that freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences", said her lawyer, Dave Wishnew, in a statement.

It began in 2014, Polito says, when Andrew and Neely Moldovan became upset with her over access to their photos, and what they thought were hidden fees. In the 2015 interview with NBC 5, Moldovan argued "An album comes with a cover".

The Moldovans objected to the fee and according to a court petition, Polito emailed Neely on January 14, 2015 and "requested that Neely select the album cover, with the intention of waiving the cost of the cover". When she reached out to the couple several days later, she learned they'd already contacted several news outlets to complain that she'd been "holding their photos hostage", according to the suit.

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