Big payout for NRL great’s daughter
NRL legend Mark Geyer's daughter has been awarded $125,000 in damages after a rugby league meme page wrongly named her as being the woman in Tyrone May's infamous sex tape.
Montanna Geyer had sued Fouad Ghosn, the man accused of publishing the posts on NRL Memes and NRL Quality Memes on March 4, 2019, claiming she was the "bird in the Tyrone May video".
Judge Judith Gibson awarded the substantial sum to Ms Geyer on Wednesday after a week-long trial in November, saying the post's claims were not only hurtful but a "figment of the defendant's imagination".
Ms Geyer's payout could increase when the matter returns to court on December 18 for a costs hearing.
At trial, Ms Geyer claimed the memes left her feeling "completely broken", while her friends and famous father described how a "bubbly" young woman became too scared to leave the house.
Western Sydney man Mr Ghosn, 24, denied owning the pages, claiming he had never used social media and suggested he may have been framed as the culprit.
A jury found in Ms Geyer's favour in the case of NRL Memes but that the evidence had not proved Mr Ghosn published a similar post on NRL Quality Memes.
Ms Geyer sought aggravated damages and claimed she was defamed in six ways, including that she was intimately involved in the sex tape scandal and that she was an "indecent and lewd" person who would allow herself to be filmed during sex for the purpose of sharing with others.
The jury of four men found she had been defamed in all six ways.
Ms Gibson wrote in her judgment that the posts clearly had a "profound impact on her personally for a considerable time".
That hurt was "exacerbated" by Mr Ghosn's failure to apologise despite repeated requests from Ms Geyer's lawyers, she said, who instead took to his meme page to hit back at the legal action.
"The matter complained of is not simply false, or an error, but a figment of the defendant's imagination, created without any research or inquiry of any kind," Ms Gibson wrote.
The offending meme showed a picture of Ms Geyer above a screenshot from the leaked sex tape that led to Penrith star May being charged by police.
"The bird in the Tyrone May video is Mark Geyer's daughter. Happy days at Penrith," the meme read.
Above the meme there was a caption reading: "This is getting spicy."
May was charged by police and sentenced in court after the video leaked online.
Ms Gibson said the use of the word "spicy" was key to the lawsuit, as the post claimed she added "spice" to the scandal by being the daughter of Panthers icon Mr Geyer.
Ms Gibson also slammed Mr Ghosn's refusal to apologise to Ms Geyer, saying he instead chose to post a series of "grossly insulting and public" responses on the page.
The court heard during the trial that NRL Memes posted pictures of correspondence received from Brydens Lawyers, including Ms Geyer's statement of claim on the same day it was delivered to Mr Ghosn's house.
The post, which attached photos of all 15 pages, was titled "Rugby League vs. Fouad Ghosn" and tagged its location as John Maddison Tower - the court where last month's trial was held.
In another post, Mr Ghosn claimed Mark Geyer would be "pissing money down the drain" in the lawsuit.
On the stand, Ms Geyer, 24, said the posts had left her feeling "paranoid" and "overwhelmingly anxious".
"As soon as I saw it I screamed, I literally screamed from pure shock," she said.
"I ran downstairs to my family because I didn't know what was going on. I was devastated … I was beside myself."
Her father Mark also gave evidence before the court, saying after he saw the posts he commented online, asking for the name of the page owner.
Mr Geyer said "everybody who responded" told him it was Mr Ghosn.
"This is my daughter and the fact she was suggested as even being involved in it made me really angry," he said.
Originally published as Big payout for NRL great's daughter