One Texas couple will have to pay more than $1 million after an apparent dispute over a $125 fee for their wedding photos.
According to Dallas News, photographer Andrea Polito has been awarded $1.08 million in a civil defamation suit she filed in March 2015 against Neely and Andrew Moldovan.
Polito argued that the Moldovans used a personal website, titled “A Complete Waste of Makeup,” and social media to attack her business, destroying 13 years of work and diminishing her business bookings from 75 to 100 weddings a year to two.
“I was proud of my accomplishments, what I have done. They took that away from me. It’s been a fight for myself to get my reputation back,” Polito told Dallas News. “People knew me and my reputation. I’ve shot several of the Dallas elites. All the name calling, all the bullying ... I was humiliated.”
According to Dallas News, a few weeks after her wedding, Neely Moldovan asked Polito when high-resolution pictures from the event would be ready. Polito told her client that it was in the contract that the couple had to submit an order form and to choose a cover photo for their picture album, with a $125 fee for the cover. The Moldovans declined to pay the fee.
Polito said that after several weeks she had planned to waive the fee, but before she could tell the Moldovans, accusations that her company was “holding their photos hostage” surfaced. The Moldovans had gone to local news outlets with the story.
Neely Moldovan published blog posts discussing her negative experience with Polito and her satisfaction that Polito was going out of business. She also liked and encouraged bad reviews of Polito on Yelp, including one that alleged Polito gave a commenter AIDS.
Polito’s lawyer said that the Moldovans claimed others had created fake profiles to write negative reviews in their names, but he said that this was proven false.
A jury agreed, and as a result, the Moldovans must pay $1.08 million for defamatory, disparaging and malicious statements.
In an interview with, NBC Dallas Fort-Worth in 2015, the couple told their side of the story.
They said Polito had been paid more than $6,000 and that the dispute wasn’t about the money but the “principle” of the issue.
On the fee for the cover of the album Neely Moldovan said, “We can pay the $150, but it’s the principle. It’s not the money to us. It’s the principle of the fact we already paid you.”
“It just didn’t make sense,” Andrew Moldovan said. “An album comes with a cover. It’s a component of an album. It’s a book.”
The couple said they were told that unless the fee was paid by a certain deadline, they’d have to “forfeit” the album, which would be archived and gotten back for an additional $250.
That dispute appears to be the source of the photo-hostage-taking accusation and everything that followed.
Read more at Dallas News.