Couple who defamed Texas wedding photog must pay $1M

Kelvin Reese
August 3, 2017

Newly married couple Andrew and Neely Moldovan were so pissed at a wedding photographer Andrea Polito over a $125 fee that they chose to ruin her career, launching an online campaign against her business. Andrew and Neely Moldovan accused Polito of "holding their photos hostage" following their 2014 wedding.

Polito's attorney Dave Wishnew, with Gruber Elrod in Dallas, said Monday that the dispute focused on the defendants' objection to the contract stating they must pick a $125 photo album cover before Polito could turn over photographs taken of the rehearsal dinner and wedding ceremony.

However, the couple objected to paying $125 for the cover, so after weeks of emailing back and forth, Polito said she wouldn't make them pay, Dallas News reported.

"I was thrilled", Wishnew says of the verdict.

This was the way it was for "several weeks", and Polito said she had planned just waive the fee, but, days later, accusations that her company was "holding their photos hostage" began swirling. The jury said the couple had committed defamation because they were fueled by malice.

"It was really hard", she explained. "I've shot several of the Dallas elites", Polito told the Dallas Morning News.

"Statements like, "I'm pretty sure her business is ruined, ' 'I hope this goes viral, ' 'feeling excited, ' and 'justice has been served" are not the actions of a concerned and hurt bride; they are actions of an individual trying to take someone down and instigate a lynch mob of negativity across the nation".

"We are stunned. We did what consumer advocates say to do: When you are wronged, you fight back", the statement reads.

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A phone message left for the Moldovans' attorneys was not immediately returned Tuesday.

The jury agreed the Moldovans aditonally made "disparaging and defamatory statements" across social media and on wedding blogs, claiming the photographer "cheated" and "scammed people".

"I finally feel some vindication after nearly three years of a legal battle brought on by a fabricated news story and a social media attack", Polito says in a statement to PEOPLE. Typically her company would book 75 to 100 weddings, but that year it only booked two. "It was done. The negative reviews destroyed her reputation, and in a business that is largely word-of-mouth, no one was referring her".

"People knew me and my reputation".

"No one is safe from this", she told the Dallas News.

The Moldovans were found liable for disparagement, defamation, and civil conspiracy and must now pay Polito $1.08 million in damages.

The NBC5 story and interview with the couple aired January 2015, at the start of Polito's primary booking season.

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