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Ohio State Senator Will Pay $20,000 After Blocking Constituent On Facebook

Ohio Senate
State Sen. Joe Uecker

A southwest Ohio man has settled a lawsuit he filed against his Republican state senator, who he says blocked him on Facebook during a heated debate about the “Heartbeat Bill” abortion ban in December.

State Sen. Joe Uecker (R-Miami Township) had posted he was disappointed Gov. John Kasich’s veto wouldn’t be overturned, when his constituent –Anthony Fambry of Batavia – posted that the Heartbeat Bill was unconstitutional. Uecker fired back that Fambry needed lose his emotions and get his facts straight, and Fambry says he was subsequently blocked and his comments erased.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Fambry said. “I was talking to a senator. I was being formal and professional, and I just got removed, silenced, and effectively told I couldn’t participate anymore in the conversation.”

Fambry said he filed the suit for others who were blocked, and also for future constituents.

“I was really looking forward to set that precedent of, ‘You can’t just block people on social media as a government official,’" Fambry said.

The settlement award was $20,000, but Fambry said after legal fees he’ll get just $1,000. Uecker does not admit guilt as part of the settlement, and denies he violated Fambry's free speech rights.

As long as he's in office, Uecker cannot block Fambry unless he's threatened or harassed in violation of Facebook's terms of service.

Fambry said he’s getting calls from throughout the state from people who’ve also been blocked by their lawmakers, who are asking him for advice and the number of his attorney.