Friday, October 2, 2009

Teased Beauty School Sues Employees for Facebook Comments

A beauty school owner is pursuing a libel and emotional distress action against employees who allegedly made defamatory comments in a private Facebook account.

The action in Kane County (Ill.) Circuit Court, Gwendolyn & Co. d/b/a The Salon Academy of Elgin, Gwendolyn Nelson; Aaron Aven v. Nicholas Blacconiere; John Doe[Case No. 2009L-000465] was brought after Blacconiere created a Facebook page ungrammatically inviting the school's students to comment about the school and its instructors thusly: "Dont be afraid to post comments on whats going on, this is yor voice too."

The plaintiffs seek $50,000 in damages, alleging that the resulting posts hurt their personal and professional reputation among customers, the public, and members of the hair and beauty profession, who can be snippy (Warning: "TUOL" brakes for puns). When the suit was filed, the private Facebook account, named "TPSA RobinHood," had 10 "friends."

The Salon Academy faces an uphill challenge, given the Facebook account's restricted access, persuading the Court that customers and the public viewed the purportedly harmful comments and that the allegedly offending remarks were false statements of facts rather than protected opinion. Apparently, the school did not suspend or kick out the participating students; it just sued them. An interesting take on student retention, to say the least.

Attorney and blogger Laura Hodes ( first weighed in on the unusual case. A case management conference is scheduled this month.


  1. If the damage is "permanent," "wave" goodbye to their reputation. Otherwise, something good may "grow out" of the lawsuit. Both sides should stop using, "Gee, Your Hair Smells Litigious " shampoo.