Yelp Review Writer Sued for Defamation

Posted by on Dec 14, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

If you thought you had the freedom to post a review of a business on sites such as Yelp or Angie’s List, think again. The review you write on these sites could get you in legal trouble.  NPR reported on December 9 that a housing contractor has sued a former client for the information she wrote on a Yelp Review.

According to the article, Christopher Dietz sued Jane Perez for $750,000 in defamation charges. What did she write about Dietz? She told the Yelp community that after Dietz’s company was finished with the job at her home, part of her house was damaged and jewelry was missing. Surprisingly the judge ruled in favor of Dietz, ordering Perez to remove parts of the reviews.

Lawsuits over customer reviews are not new. However, since online reviews are new territory, laws are still being developed to handle these issues. Law professor Eric Goldman told NPR that it’s extremely difficult to sue someone over a single, negative review. According to Goldman, while a single negative review might not hurt a business, a slew of them do have the power to tell the whole story.

According to the NPR article, a 2011 Harvard study revealed that an increase of one star on Yelp equals a 5 to 9 percent rise in revenue. This potential increase in revenue is what drives companies to closely manage their online reputation.

Although such lawsuits might discourage anyone from posting a negative review on Yelp, it shouldn’t. The reason? According to the article, most people including Dietz sue customers for reviews that are considered “defamatory, libelous, and untrue.” So if you stick to telling the truth, you should be safe, fingers crossed.

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