A forum manager to pay 100,000 NIS for libel

A forum manger at the Walla! Website was ordered [Hebrew] to pay compensations in the sum of 100,000 NIS, for her part in libelous publications posted by the public in the forum under her management.  In May 2007, Judge Shoshana Almagor, president of the Tel-Aviv Magistrates’ Court, has determined [Hebrew] that Anat Refuah-Aharonovits is responsible for the publications, due to her negligence in not identifying and removing the libelous posts.  Plaintiff Dr. Moshe Bushmits, the city veterinarian of Hod-Hsharon, and a partner in a monkey's breeding farm sold for research purposes. Between 2001 and 2003, the "Animal Rights" forum in the Walla! Website published posts slandering Bushmits as abusing monkeys and included holocaust analogies. Some of these publications were posted by the public and some by the defendant, the forum manager, who was also the spokesperson for the Society Against Animal Experimentation.

In the decision regarding the defendant's responsibility, the court found the defendant liable for public expressions posted in the forum under her management, under Section 35 of the Tort Ordinance. It was established that the defendant had been negligent by not taking precautionary measures and anticipated the injury to the plaintiff. The court held that posts comparing the plaintiff's work with Nazi acts have caused him considerable pain and suffering, and that these publications even made it to his colleagues' e-mail boxes. It was concluded that consideration should be given to the extent of the publications and the many months during which the offending posts appeared in the forum unhindered. Furthermore, the court dismissed the defendant's claim that the publications did not disturb the plaintiff, in view of the long period of time during which the publications appeared in the website before the plaintiff had asked to have them removed.