Recently, a Canadian website was forced to shut down as a result of being sued. The website, freedominion.ca, published comments about a lawyer from Ottawa, Canada. The lawyer sued the website, its two webmasters and the two commenters for hate speech violations.
At the time these comments were posted, there was a law in Canada (a portion of the Canadian Human Rights Act) that regulated such hate speech and, as a result, the lawyer sued, claiming that the comments were libelous and malicious. The lawyer won $42,000, as well as $85,000 in costs. More importantly, the lawyer won an order barring the defendants from publishing the 41 libelous statements again.
As a result of the monetary award, the website had to close down. While some view this as being an improper infringement upon free speech, it is, more accurately, a reflection of the changing trend against the Wild West element of the Internet.
Businesses that find themselves on the receiving end of such defamatory comments may wish to investigate similar remedies through either state or federal law.