Scorned Wedding Photographer Strikes Back with Million Dollar Lawsuit

Scorned Wedding Photographer Strikes Back with Million Dollar Lawsuit

The saga continues. Remember that story we posted at the beginning of the year about the newlyweds who were suing their wedding photographer over a wedding album cover? How would you feel if we told you that the photographer has struck back with a suit of her own against the couple for damages associated with defamation of character and reputation for upwards of $1,000,000?

For a brief refresher, the newlywed Moldovans claimed that their wedding photographer, Dallas-based Andrea Polito, was holding their wedding photos hostage until they paid for a wedding album cover that was not in their contract. The Moldovans contacted Polito a few months after their wedding to order the wedding album that was included in their contract as a "40 page 8.5x12 storybook album with up to 80 images." Polito told them they needed to first select a cover for the album, which would start at $125 and would be outside their $6,000 contract already paid to Polito. Many increasingly heated emails later led them to lawsuit number one, now Polito is striking back with guns blazing and a lawsuit that might cost the Moldovans anywhere between $200,000 and $1,000,000 dollars. 

As a response to the initial January lawsuit against Polito, Polito published an "Open Letter" on her own blog in which she defines commitment as "missing your own brother’s wedding for the wedding of a couple you had already committed to photograph" and "having a miscarriage at 6 months on a Thursday, and persevering to show up at a wedding two days later because, regardless of what was going on in my life, this day was about someone else’s happiness." Now Polito can add filing a lawsuit for defamation of character onto her list of definitions of commitment. 

 

In the case documents filed by Polito, Polito's attorney opens with the following statement:

 

"This is a case about APP’s [Andrea Polito Photography, Inc.] clients, the Moldovans, who sought local media to publish a story based on defamatory and disparaging statements about Polito and APP to exact unjustified revenge for their personal benefit; who republished the story on various social media and electronic forums, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, emails, and text messages to harm Polito and APP; and who directed business away from Polito and APP. To further destroy Polito and APP’s reputation and business, the Moldovans engaged in a smear campaign taken worldwide on many websites and different forms of media. The Moldovans took pride and pleasure in the harm they caused, bragging they were “pretty sure her business is done.” The Moldovans’ tortious actions have damaged Polito’s personal and professional reputation, caused her extreme emotional distress, and already caused, and will continue to cause, substantial economic damages to APP."

 

Photographer Andrea Polito (courtesy of http://www.politoweddings.com/)

 

The fillings go on to defame the Moldovans as a couple with malicious intent and speak for Polito and her reserved nature. 

 

"Polito is a private person and has shied away from the limelight during her career. Unfortunately, her successful business and privacy came to a screeching halt when the Moldovans happily decided they would destroy her business in local, national, and social media."

 

"The Moldovans’ statements attacked Polito’s character and APP’s business practices, and subjected Plaintiffs to public hatred, contempt, ridicule, and impeached their honesty and integrity."

 

"As a consequence of Defendants’ wrongful acts described above, Plaintiffs have suffered actual and consequential damages. Plaintiffs seek general and special damages, including damages associated with mental anguish, injury to feelings, and injury to character and reputation. Prior to the Defendants’ remarks, Polito (and APP) enjoyed an excellent professional reputation, receiving favorable reviews from clients and others." 

 

The case brought forward by Polito pins the Moldovans for leading a "smear campaign taken worldwide" with the sole intent to seek "unjustified revenge for their personal benefit." It is also reiterates in the case that the plaintiff, Polito, has suffered serious mental anguish and severe stress due to what is being considered intentionally maliciously behavior by the Moldovans which has ultimately led to serious harm to Polito's Dallas-based business. Considering this story started about what should have been a minor album cover dispute, the tides have certainly turned. 

 

What do you all think? Does Andrea Polito inspire the rights of all small business owners or was the couple justified in their case?

 

 

The filing can be found at http://courts.dallascounty.org/ and listed under case number DC-15-03069

Image courtesy of http://www.politoweddings.com/index.html

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40 Comments

Someone tell me if I understand this... the couple wanted what seems to be an upgraded cover but either didn't understand it was extra or it wasn't' communicated clearly to them. The photographer then wouldn't release the photos until everything was PIF?

I don't know... I can see both sides. It seems like this had turned into absolute insanity over what was $150.

My understanding is that the album pages were included in the contract, but the cover was additional and not included in the price of the album. (Any cover at all, not just an upgrade. There wasn't even a no-frills basic option included in the price of the album.)

Chris Adval's picture

Which in my opinion is the issue at case here where the clients assumed if they did not pay for the upgrade cover a basic option would be in place, which I'd assume as well if I were the clients. It was the fault of the photographer who did not communicate that to the clients, even though this photographer had a disclaimer on their album form where they need to expect an additional charge for an album cover but should at be required to give an option for basic cover at no additional charge in my opinion that would be more ethical and would have not caused the issues we've been seeing in this case.

I read something where she offered them one of the lower end free covers but they wanted the high end cover. Or something like that. Either way, if it had been me, $150 out of $6,000 to keep your client appeased is worth the cost. Stuff like this is the reason I don't do wedding photography - many people will try to basically hold you hostage for whatever they want because they can ruin your business via social media.

Ariel Martini's picture

couple sues back for 1 billion dollars

Got to love that photoshop rendered LENS FLARE!!!! thats on a bunch of her photos.

ALIsa RAUNER's picture

She deserves the money with all the critical negative comments she is going to get about her money. Clients have no clue lens flare or not. Its a good pic or its bad. And taste is relative ! Or lack of it!

Ariel Martini's picture

his site opens with a photo of a couple pillow fighting on a bed. on a beach. case dismissed.

http://www.politophotography.com/images/Website_Main.jpg

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Ariel Martini's picture

objection!
- and there's another photo with a fake photoshop lens flare over it. case dismissed.

http://www.politoweddings.com/images/538mainweb.jpg

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Rich Doney's picture

Hahaha what is this sillyness, at least it's not selective colour..

Hideous.................... I mean who in their right mind thinks that adds to the image???

Americans and their crazy lawsuits... If you tried to sue someone for serving you coffee that burned your lips or your neighbour because there was a turd from his dog on your lawn, or the guy in your class who still owes you 5 quid six months later, the judges here in europe would most likely just laugh at you...!

Paulo Macedo's picture

True! You would probabily be sued for beeing an idiot, at least here in Portugal haha

Willie Brown's picture

But yet, sadly here in America if you tried to sue for any of that stuff, you would more than likely win the case. Well, we already know the hot coffee at McDonalds case, thus is why they have to put a warning label on hot coffee now. *smh*

Just another reason that this country is the laughing stock of the world. :'(

Luc-Richard Elie's picture

Actually you should research the facts of that case. The coffee was so hot that it gave an 80 year lady 3rd degree burns and she had go thru skin grafting and spend 3 weeks recovering especially after dropping to 80pds. She sued for 20k to cover Medical expenses. McDonalds offered her $800. Corporations take advantage of people all the time....no one was trying to get rich. But McDonalds refused to admit any wrong doing....End result, case gets national attention and company pays out over a half a million.

Its all true, I saw the documentary on it.

It was a frivolous lawsuit by most standards...unfortunately the American way. The coffee was served between 180 and 190 degrees F, and still is today. A spokesman for the National Coffee Association said it conformed to industry standards. Executive Director of Specialty Coffee Association of American said standard serving temps are 160-185 degrees F. Starbucks sells coffee between 175 and 185. My Kuerig machine recommends 192 degrees F for its serving temp. McDonalds served at industry standard temps AND put warnings on the cup (like you should have to...??). The lady put a hot cup of coffee between her legs to pop the top off and put cream in it. She popped it towards herself and spilled it between her legs and crotch. I'm sorry, but no company should need to warn others to not do that. She was 79 at the time....plenty old enough to know not to put hot coffee (regardless of temperature) between her legs. These lawsuits need to be thrown out and stop wasting our courts' time.

The real reason for the award size was, A. McDonald's got caught cheating on discovery, hiding information, and B. they told the plaintiff to pound sand when she originally requested just her expenses; these two factors pissed off the jury.

McDonald's try to hide their long running history of customers burned by too hot coffee: "Documents obtained from McDonald's showed that from 1982 to 1992 the company had received more than 700 reports of people burned by McDonald's coffee to varying degrees of severity, and had settled claims arising from scalding injuries for more than $500,000"

The claim that most coffee is served at 180 to 190 degrees is simply false. For most coffee machines that is the brewing temperature; commercial coffee is usually served 140 to 160 degrees.

On the other hand you can sue someone over there for being rude to you on the street.

Well women can sue men for street harassment/ flirting (because it's a big issue here in europe. I get whistled at every day and there's always someone to shout "nice ass" or "nice tits") and foreigners can sue for racism if you call them racist names but if you just call someone an idiot or an asshole then no they can not sue you.

Jeff McCollough's picture

Lol haha. If we could sue for racist comments here in Bolivia I would be rich. Here women harass men on the streets too lol.

David Vaughn's picture

God, why would you want to go through this mess? "Instead of paying the $125-300, let's spend the first year of our marriage in court, spending more money than what our entire wedding was worth."

Paulo Macedo's picture

It's a way of getting rich with photography! Gotta move to the US hahahaha xD

What is missing from this article, that I have read in others, is the photographer did offer the cover at no additional charge because the couple was so upset. Her contract may not be clear enough, or it was, but it seems this couple was just looking for any reason for their 15 minutes of fame. Her clients were upset and she tried rectifying the situation by offering the cover free of charge-- seems like she did what she could to please her clients. The couple went too far and I do feel she is justified in this lawsuit.

Andy Kochendorfer's picture

I applaud the photographer standing up to this type of abuse! Too many feel that social media can be used without consequence to gain fame at the cost of others. A legal precedence may stop some of this nonsense n the future.

Anyone involved in a high profile dispute like this should really setup a GoFundMe or a Patreon or something. I would donate ten bucks or so to help this photographer with her lawsuit.

This story is just a misunderstanding, the couple being uneducated of how albums work, but the photographers fault for not educating them or writing, (album cover not included) into the documentation. Many people think Album means cover too but thats not always the case. The photographer should have told the couple this information before the wedding even happen. I would say if this went to a judge he would rule in the favor of the couple because even if the couple don't pay $150 for the album cover, they still by contract need all the things in the package above. The photographer regardless needs to figure out how to get them their spread with no cover. The photographer can't also hold the CD of the proofs hostage because the couple already paid for that. Lawsuits are just what assholes do to each other. If they where a good photographer they would eat up a $150.00 cost, maybe gift it to the couple and move on with their day knowing they will pry get other business from friends family of that couples wedding.

The photographer now just has negative social appearance, I mean I would pry black list her and warn people away from her personally. Why would you hire someone who's in a case with another couple over $150.00 dispute and now threatens their photos as a bargaining chip.

No doubt the clients were being vindictive, but the photographer made it easy for them to destroy her reputation. From a client perspective, it would set off my scam alert if there was suddenly $150 more that wasn't listed in the contract. If this account of things is to be believed (http://www.nbcdfw.com/investigations/Photographer-Who-Charged-Extra-for-...), the photographer's staff did not respond in a very client-friendly way, and I can see how the client felt their photos were being held "hostage". Now that account may be biased and leave out some things, but I think that the core truth is that the photographer didn't stop the situation from getting out of her control. If I was in the client's shoes, I might have gone to the local news too.

Samten Norbù's picture

Wouhaaa ! 6000$ for a wedding !!!! There is no way to earn this much in France, what ever your job's quality !!!
and for this price, it would be a shame to be griddy for 150$ !

I don't really know the back side of the true story ( it will always be the story from each side ) so I won't try to play "I know who is right" ... but it's seems to be quite strange to go to this level of crazyness for a so small amount of money ( considering the HUGE price of the deal ! )

Samten Norbù's picture

with 3 weddings, she earn more money than I do in 1 year !!!

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