Tennessee: Shelter director and Humane Society to split $31,000 in slander and libel lawsuit settlement

This article is why I’m extremely careful about who I “call out” and post that they’ve done wrong. Whether the news involves a person or rescue committing animal cruelty or diverted funds or policy violations, a writer or news media publication has to be very careful about what they say on social media.

Director & HCHS will share $31,000 settlement
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Rather than turn this article into a LONG story, please click here (opens in new window) and read about the case involving Hawkins County Humane Society and those who attempted to create trouble for the Rogersville, Tennessee shelter director. Then return to PoC.org and comment.

On December 20, four people who slandered and libeled the Hawkins County Humane Society and its current director back in 2013-14 agreed to pay a total of $31,000 in damages.

A civil trial lasting three days in Hawkins County Circuit Court was decided on Wednesday by a jury to award HCHS director Sandy Behnke compensatory damages of $10,000 and $11,000 to the humane society in compensatory damages.

Attorneys also reached a settlement agreement to award punitive damages of $10,000 with a provision the case won’t be appealed. Behnke and the shelter will each get $5,000.

Facebook and other social media do a great job in helping get animals in need out of a bad situation and into a good and loving home. On the downside, people share status updates that may or may not be true about an individual or rescue. They also personally spread rumors within the rescue community.

The lies told, in this case, ranging from animal cruelty to theft and drug offenses with the federal DEA, state Department of Health, the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office and the state comptrollers office. After filing false offenses those making the claims turned to news media to ask them to notify the public.

Be aware of anything posted on Facebook being used against you in a court of law, should the information turns out to be false. Consider anything you post being screenshotted to use against you in the future.

More and more people who are lied about are turning the tables on the accuser and being rewarded for the online abuse suffered when a reputation is destroyed by gossip.

People ask me why I won’t write on rumor alone. I require a major news media reference (not a blogger who hates the person or rescue) or someone I trust implicitly before I cover a story. My reason is simple. I live on very little money and it’s not worth losing any of it to a lawsuit.

Your comments are welcome.

5 thoughts on “Tennessee: Shelter director and Humane Society to split $31,000 in slander and libel lawsuit settlement”

  1. It is good that the laws of defamation have been used but it has to be said that it is exceptionally rare for someone to sue in defamation. The costs are prohibitive. And the case has to be clear cut. There is lots of defamation on social media. Tons of it. And tons of copyright violations too. Nearly all of it goes unpunished.


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