Food for Thought

January 30, 2008 by Lucas Lechuga

Many of you already know about the lawsuit at hand. There are many issues to consider about this case, which others have shared with me via email and over the phone. I wanted to share their thoughts with you.

1) I was never contacted by the developer, nor his representatives, to correct the misstatement. The lawsuit was the first instance of me finding out that he was upset about the blog post. Had he contacted me to make a correction, or to take it down, I would have gladly done so.

2) A blog is an open forum. My blog allows people who visit this blog to leave comments. The developer, or someone associated with the developer, could have left a comment correcting the misstatement. This was never done.

3) I did not have my license hung with EWM at the time that I wrote the post. Does this mean that all corporations should now be held accountable for the blog posts that their employees wrote on Myspace before working for them? Does corporate America now need to review all blog posts that someone may have written before the employee was hired?

4) Every day, people on Amazon.com leave both positive and negative views about products. Does this mean that Amazon.com should be sued because somebody has an unfavorable opinion about a product and has decided to leave a comment that is deemed to be negative? What happens if their comment turns out to be a misstatement about the product?

5) The bottom line is that this is a blog. Wikipedia’s definition of blog is the following:

A blog (a portmanteau of web log) is a website where entries are commonly displayed in reverse chronological order. “Blog” can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog.

Many blogs provide commentary or news on a particular subject; others function as more personal online diaries. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, web pages, and other media related to its topic. The ability for readers to leave comments in an interactive format is an important part of many blogs. Most blogs are primarily textual, although some focus on art (artlog), photographs (photoblog), sketchblog, videos (vlog), music (MP3 blog), audio (podcasting) are part of a wider network of social media. Micro-blogging is another type of blogging which consists of blogs with very short posts.

To me, a blog is a way to share thoughts and ideas with others. As Robert Jarvis, a constitutional law and ethics professor at Nova Southeastern University, stated in the Miami Herald article “Courts understand [blogs] are written in unedited, unvetted fashion”.

6) Journalists are offered the opportunity to retract misstatements. If a newspaper publishes a misstatement then the publisher is offered the opportunity to make a retraction. A blog writer, however, is not held to the standards of a journalist. As stated above, blogs are viewed as open forums. The plaintiff could have corrected the misstatement by addressing it in a comment left on the blogger’s website.

I’m not going to reveal the amount of traffic that this blog receives, but considering the number of people in this world, the visitors to this website represents such a minute percentage of the global market. Miami is not a local market. There are people from all over the world who have an interest in owning property in Miami and Miami Beach. If I had written about the housing market of some small community in Arkansas (sorry to use you as an example…please don’t sue me) then maybe a court could show that I influenced the thoughts of buyers and sellers within that community. The fact of the matter is that there is interest from buyers from all over the world that have their eyes on Miami real estate. To say that my blog influenced the Miami condo market is ridiculous. Flattering, perhaps, but still ridiculous. As I said, the percentage of people who read my blog in this world is minute.

I wanted to share a very funny video that a local blogger has made. Peter Santiago of Santiago Labs gave me a laugh today (on a day when everything was just too serious). I hope you all enjoy it as well.

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16 Comments on "Food for Thought"


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Anonymous

[…] unknown article is brought to you using rss feeds.Here is a great article on the latest real estate buying and selling news.The fact of the matter is that there is interest from buyers from all over the world that have their eyes on Miami real estate. To say that my blog influenced the Miami condo market is ridiculous. Flattering, perhaps, but still … […]

Anonymous
8 years 7 months ago

I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you.

Eric Hundin

Anonymous
8 years 7 months ago

Nobody portrays a blog as being a reliable source of information

Are you kidding? What in the world have real estate bloggers been doing these past several years if not trying to demonstrate credibility and expertise?

What a cop out.

Anonymous
Gonzalo
8 years 7 months ago
Lucas: I am a potential real estate purchaser, and have been reading your blog for at least 8 months. It has been very useful since you say things strictly how they are. In many cases you have mentioned good and bad things about several projects however in no way or sense has it influenced my capacity to make my own decisions on when its the right time to buy in this market. Your blog is a site where us the readers go, on freewill, to get informed from ONE point of view of what is happening in the real estate… Read more »
Anonymous
Advice
8 years 7 months ago

The fact is the developer did go “bankrupt” on at least one project in the past….if the bank took over a project, it is because you went bankrupt on the project, duh. Hollo can shout all he wants, but this may just highlight the fact that one of his projects had in fact gone back to the bank in the past. If it did, then he went bankrupt on that, end of story.

Truth is a defense. This is just plain silly.

Anonymous
8 years 7 months ago

More power to you! I saw the video clip with the news on Active Rain. You just got yourself a new subscriber. This is the most ridiculous thing I have heard in the sue happy epidemic.
You have the right to your opinion. What makes it not so? Freedom of speech is worth fighting for. We just read about this buildings problems in the business journal and you had nothing to do with that!

Anonymous
8 years 7 months ago

This is absolutely crazy! I wish you all the best and I hope this situation gets resolved in your favor.

Anonymous
Julian
8 years 7 months ago
I’m a supporter, Lucas, but let’s get really pedantic for a second. Were your comments defamatory? Possibly. Sounds like interpretation of certain words and impact have to be judged. Bankrupt is very specific, especially in the US. Gone bust, project taken over by the bank yada yada are different. Whether it’s defamatory should near bankruptcy have taken place. Don’t know – but the response should have been a full-on insistence of a retraction and no further comment on Opera Tower. Should the plaintiff have asked for a retraction first? Yes. Has some damage from defamation been caused? Yes, if proven,… Read more »
Anonymous
Terry
8 years 7 months ago
Lucas, Dont feel bad or sorry for yourself. You did and still do a great job maintaining this blog. The numbers of readers and the number of comments show you that people care and are on your side. Even the judge and the jury can read it and they will make up their mind. Now in a few weeks it will all be forgotten, but eventually you will have a lot more clients (like myself) who appreciate your honnesty and unbiaised views of the market and will go through you to buy in Miami and not through anybody else… certainly… Read more »
Anonymous
Al
8 years 7 months ago

Lucas, you are doing a great job! Thank you for the insight you provide on the local condo market. The lawsuit is a joke. I am with you 100 per cent.

Anonymous
8 years 7 months ago
Lucas – just some friendly advice, one blogger to another…. if you’re going to write a statement like, “Nobody portrays a blog as being a reliable source of information” and someone challenges you on that opinion, it’s probably best not to just delete that statement from you post. Granted there are no hard rules in blogging, but it’s generally considered better to use the strike through and/or to respond in the comments. It’s your blog, so you are of course free to do whatever you see fit. I am curious though. Do you feel that nobody portrays a blog as… Read more »
Anonymous
RMP
8 years 7 months ago

I want $25 million too. Who should I sue?

Anonymous
8 years 7 months ago
Hi Lucas, I read your article regarding Tibor Hollo suing you for $25M. Due to a divorce in 2003 and my son out of the house, I decided to sell my 4 bd/2-1/2 bth. home in Kendall. It was a good year to sell in 2003. I sold my home in 3 days and profiting over $150k market value. Being single again, kid is grown, and working in Coconut Grove, my suburban living was no longer feasible nor applicable for my new life style. So after researching Miami Beach, Coral Gables, Coconut Grove, I stumbled upon the condo market at… Read more »
Anonymous
8 years 7 months ago

There is no such thing as bad publicity – this lawsuit will probably draw you more attention & potential clients than the dumbass developer will ever benefit from the lawsuit.

Give a smack to those cheeseball developers!

Anonymous
brian
8 years 7 months ago

From the Washington Post, 1992.

“Tibor Hollo said he was left with a net worth of $35 million after lenders released him from $364 million of his personal debt.”

That may not be bankrupt, but sure doesnt sound good!

Anonymous
8 years 7 months ago

Hi from your Orlando condo-blogging counterpart! I know how you feel. I’ve stepped on a few toes myself. You know how I solved the problem. I took the brokerage exam and now have my own bloggerage. Yep, I can still get sued but I don’t have to answer to any spineless broker – just myself. And that is suweeeet! So do it baby – you won’t regret it.

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