Accurate Landscape & Plowing in Manchester, New Hampshire, has filed a defamation lawsuit against Kelleigh Murphy, chairman of the Bedford Town Council, for a posting on Facebook that the company considers to be out of line.
Murphy was in search for a landscape contractor to perform work at her Bedford property, which is on an acre of land. After receiving a quote from Accurate and another competitor, Murphy decided to use social media to express her displeasure.
One of her Facebook entries stated, “Literally, the quotes I got were between $3,000 and $5,000. For a yard with no leaves to clean up, weed, edge or beds, and do some mulching.” Then, soon after, Murphy posted yet another message saying, “Well, just in case anyone wants to know, the most outrageous quote I got was from Accurate Landscape,” according to court documents.
While the landscape company feels that the posts are misleading and defamatory, Murphy is standing up for what she believes is free speech. But according to the company’s attorney: “The statements communicate falsely in two respects: that Accurate overcharges and takes advantage of clients, and exhibit an intent by Ms. Murphy to harm Accurate’s reputation in the community. Work that Ms. Murphy requested for a lavish property was more extensive than a simple ‘spring cleanup’ with mulching.”
“Kelleigh feels strongly that this implicates her First Amendment rights,” her lawyer says. “It’s not only about the lawsuit; it’s about the ability of people to speak out and review businesses.”
A judge has recently allowed the case to proceed to trial.