A judge stated that it could end up costing him more than $180,000
We’ve all had errors in our social media posts before, and rarely do they ever turn out to be anything more than an embarrassing mistake. However, a grammatical error in an Australian man’s Facebook post might end up costing him $180,000 in court fees.
Anthony Zadravic, a real estate agent in New South Wales, landed in court after he forgot to add an apostrophe to a post criticizing his former workplace, according to The New York Times. More specifically, Zadravic claimed that the company and a fellow agent named Stuart Gan didn’t pay its "employees" retirement fund.
"Oh Stuart Gan!! Selling multi million $ homes in Pearl Beach but can’t pay his employees superannuation," Zadravic wrote in his now deleted post. "Shame on you Stuart!!! 2 yrs and still waiting!!!"
Gan filed a defamation claim against Zadravic in response to the post. In an attempt to have the case dismissed, Zadravic said that he clearly had meant to add an apostrophe. However, a judge on Thursday said that the case could move forward as the missing punctuation mark could have suggested “a systemic pattern of conduct” by Gan and the company.
"The difficulty for the plaintiff is the use of the word 'employees' in the plural," district court judge Judith Gibson said in a statement attained by NYT. "To fail to pay one employee’s superannuation entitlement might be seen as unfortunate; to fail to pay some or all of them looks deliberate."
The judge went on to say that the trial could wind up costing Zadravic to the tune of more than $180,000 — a steep price to pay for a grammar mistake.
Australia has some of the most notoriously strict and complex defamation laws in the world. The laws themselves have even hobbled the country’s journalists’ ability to report stories, as a 2018 survey of Australian reporters found.
The missing apostrophe case also wouldn’t be the first instance in which a grammatical error found someone in legal troubles. A 2018 case in Portland, Maine found that a missing oxford comma was enough for the courts to side with a group of truck drivers, according to NYT. That case was eventually settled for $5 million.
So, it just goes to show you that the basic grammar rules you learned in school can help you do more than avoid embarrassing mistakes — it could keep you out of legal trouble too.
READ MORE: Missing Apostrophe in Facebook Post Lands a Man in Defamation Court [NYT]
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