Artist ordered to pay damages for defaming gallery owner on social media

A New Brunswick artist has been ordered to pay damages for defaming a gallery owner, a potential cautionary tale about venting on social media.

Ryan Livingstone must pay Ingrid Mueller of Fredericton almost $3,000 because of a comment on Facebook.

Court documents show Livingstone called her a thief in a Facebook post in the midst of a dispute over payment for a piece of art.

Facebook removed the post because it violated their administrative policies but 33 people had already liked the post and 14 people shared it.

Livingstone eventually filed in small claims court and was awarded about seven-hundred-and-sixty dollars.

But Mueller argued that the Facebook post was defamatory and designed to harm her and her business by impugning her morals, character and ethics.

Livingstone's defence relied upon the plea that the statement was fair comment and justified.

However, in her ruling, Justice Judy Clendening of the Court of Queen's Bench said all the conditions were met for a finding of defamation.

Mueller asked the court for general damages of between twenty-five and fifty-thousand-dollars, but Clendening said that was excessive.

Livingstone has been ordered to pay twenty-five hundred-dollars in general damages and costs of four-hundred and fifty-dollars.