John Reinan of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports:
The prize was given to Nancy and Keith Budke of Wheaton, Minnesota, by a Traverse County jury. The Budkes, who have been in the bee business for more than 40 years, sold Nick Olsen of Maple Lake 75 Texas hives.
The bees had perished in transit when Olsen received the hives from Texas and brought them home. Olsen accused the Budkes of being to blame and asserted that the bees were infected with several diseases. On Facebook, he vented about the transaction, accusing the Budkes of “screwing” him, abusing them, and advising others not to purchase bees from them.
As evidence that the bees’ health was normal and that Olsen’s handling of the bees was probably to blame for their demise, the Budkes filed a libel lawsuit against Olsen.
After ruling in the Budkes’ favor, Traverse County District Judge Amy Doll referred the matter to a jury for consideration of damages. In a decision rendered late last month, the jury awarded the couple a total of $370,000, which included $105,000 for financial losses brought on by the libel, $240,000 for reputational harm, and $25,000 for punitive damages.