Kono v. Meeker, No. CL92694 (Iowa Dist. Ct. 2006), aff’d, No. 06-1554, 2007 WL 4322060 (Iowa App. Dec. 12, 2007).
Status: $500,000 award to plaintiff affirmed

California residents Larry and Carole Meeker sell antiques through their “Patented Antiques” website (www.patented-antiques.com/). They reached an agreement with Iowa resident Dana Kono, who collects antique woodworking tools and scientific instruments as a hobby, to trade a surveying transit owned by Kono for seven crank handle chisels owned by the Meekers. They made the exchange by shipping the items in March 2003. Kono then called Larry Meeker to verify that he was satisfied. Their accounts of that conversation differed: Kono claimed that Larry Meeker told him that “the deal would work out fine,” while Meeker claimed that told Kono that he should have mentioned that the transit was Japanese and had the name “Sokkisha” on it, and that he wanted to investigate its value. Without further communication, Meeker sent the transit back to Kono, who refused to accept it. After an increasingly testy e-mail exchange, by early April Meeker had set up a “Dana Kono Watch Page” on the Internet, which recounted the transaction from Meeker’s perspective and said that Kono was “a flat-out liar, thief and cheat,” among other insults and accusations. Kono sued, and after trial the jury awarded Kono compensatory damages of $150,000 for defamation, $50,000 for invasion of privacy, and $50,000 for intentional infliction of emotional distress, and $125,000 in punitive damages against each of the Meekers. The Meekers appealed, but the award was affirmed.

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