Couple Ordered to Pay $1.08 Million to Wedding Photographer After Defamation Lawsuit

A Texas couple is in hot waters after their wedding photographer sued them for defamation over negative statements made about her professional work with them.

Neely and Andrew Moldovan have been ordered to pay their photographer Andrea Polito a sum total of $1.08 million.

The Moldovans and Polito were in a dispute over a $125 fee for an album cover after their wedding that went back and forth for weeks. Polito told the Dallas Morning News that after the weeks of issues, she decided to absorb the cost of the album to satisfy her customers.

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A few days later, the couple spoke of their grievances with Polito during an interview with Dallas-Forth Worth TV station NBC 5. They told the outlet that Polito's company's manager said the fee was not included in their contract and that their wedding album would be forfeited if they did not pay the fee. The photographer later defended herself with the station and said that her order form "clearly states that the cover is not included in the wedding package and is an additional charge."

"As any of our brides would tell you, we have a very strong policy regarding the high-resolution files, which are not released until the photo album is completed," she wrote on her blog in 2015. "To suggest that we would hold images 'hostage' in retaliation is simply inaccurate...it is very clear that this small business discrepancy over $125 has gone too far because of ulterior motives."

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After the couple's interview, people took to Polito's page to criticize her actions, which led her to close her studio. She claims the Moldovans "engaged in a smear campaign" against her and made "disparaging and defamatory" statements about her and her company on social media, saying she "cheated" and "scammed" people.

Polito believes the couple "took pride and pleasure in the harm they caused bragging they were 'pretty sure her business is done."

The couple denied the allegations, adding that any damage the photographer suffered was because of her "misrepresentation" and "breach of contract." They also said they "did not assist or encourage any other person, including one another, in any way, much less a substantial way, to commit any tort" against the photographer.

Almost two years after the start of the lawsuit, a jury found the couple liable for defamation, disparagement and civil conspiracy.

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"I'm emotionally exhausted. This has been a very long battle," Polito said. "Last Friday, when the verdict was read I felt a little bit relieved, but most importantly, I feel my reputation was restored to myself. What's been so hard the past couple of years has been feeling so ashamed of this story."

Photo Credit: Twitter / @drpreview