DEDHAM, Mass. — Two Massachusetts brothers now owe $1.5 million to Clay Nissan for their defamatory campaign against the dealership, grounded in a social media campaign that claimed their sister was fired from the dealership because she had cancer. The ruling was ordered by Massachusetts’ Norfolk Superior Court on Sept. 10.
Jill Colter, who served as a service writer for Clay Nissan, lost her job in June. That’s when her brothers Adam and Jonathan Colter launched their campaign, creating both a website and supporting Facebook page, which was still receiving posts against the dealership as of this morning.
The court, however, ruled that the brothers went too far in urging car shoppers to boycott Clay dealerships.
According to the court documents, Jill Colter was terminated based upon her conduct, and witnesses noted that two other employees in the service department had cancer at the time and continued working at the dealership, even after her termination.
The court found that absent of the brothers’ testimonies were specifics about any conversation the dealer had with their sister regarding her illness, ruling that the brothers did not provide any evidence that their sister was fired because she had cancer. Adam Colter had claimed that he had received e-mails from former Clay employees who were terminated due to their illnesses, but could never produce such documents.
“The Colters’ campaign has produced their desired results … Clay’s business has been severely and adversely impacted,” read the court’s ruling. “In the month of July 2012 alone, the business suffered a loss of over $100,000 higher than normal. If the defendants continue in their relentless campaign against the plaintiffs, their conduct may very well have its desired effect: the crippling or destruction of the plaintiffs’ business…”
Clay Nissan released the following statement: “For the past few months, we at Clay Nissan have been forced to fight unfounded claims that our company fired an employee because she suffered from cancer. While there is no truth to this accusation, the organizers of this campaign based their effort on lies and blocked communications from Clay supporters who tried to share the facts about the issue. Given no recourse to express the truth to the campaign, we turned to the Massachusetts court system for support …”