Woman getting sued for Yelp posts.

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chewingthefat
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2012/12/05 12:31:42 (permalink)

Woman getting sued for Yelp posts.

A Home Contractor is sueing a Alexandria woman for $750,000 for trashing him on Yelp, Angies List, and some other consumer site. I say GREAT, I hope he wins. She posted an awful review on the sites saying not only was his worh shoddy and needed additional redoing, he also stole jewelry and tresspassed etc. The guy evidentally has a good reputation, and says she never paid her bill, and has cost him $300,000 in biz. He's not sueing Yelp et al, but her personally which is legal and becoming a frequent event by biz folks trashed on Yelp.
I have gotten trashed on Yelp a number of times, especially after I turned them down about advertizing on their site. I have had numerous people tell me they gave me a 5 star review which never showed up. I hate the site and ones like it.
What's your feelings about the lawsuit?
Note. the article is in todays Wash Post, !2/5/12 Metro section
#1

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    Tony Bad
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    Re:Woman getting sued for Yelp posts. 2012/12/05 13:47:34 (permalink)
    Come on Tom, you are a business owner. It is the right of every American to be able to take pot shots at you without consequence. This happens way to much, and because there is no way for these ratings sites to police the validity of these posts, they don't do anything. It is really a disgrace. 
     
     
    #2
    rumaki
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    Re:Woman getting sued for Yelp posts. 2012/12/05 15:51:13 (permalink)
    He can't sue Yelp, because the Communications Decency Act, section 230, protects web site operators from liability for user generated content they themselves do not create.  The Digital Millennium Copyright Act protects web sites, too, from liability for copyright infringing posts by users, as long as the sites comply with the "notice and takedown" provisions.
     
    Sites like Roadfood.com benefit from these protections.
     
    The liability, if there is any, rests with the poster -- assuming you can find out who it is.  The courts are all over the place on whether web sites can be forced to reveal the identity of posters, as well as what the claimant must prove in order to compel that. 
     
    Pure opinion (statements that cannot be proven true or false) is absolutely protected by the First Amendment. False factual statements (things that can be proven true or false) can be actionable if they harm a reputation.  Opinions predicated on false factual statements can lose their constitutional protection.
    #3
    chewingthefat
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    Re:Woman getting sued for Yelp posts. 2012/12/05 17:54:48 (permalink)
    rumaki

    He can't sue Yelp, because the Communications Decency Act, section 230, protects web site operators from liability for user generated content they themselves do not create.  The Digital Millennium Copyright Act protects web sites, too, from liability for copyright infringing posts by users, as long as the sites comply with the "notice and takedown" provisions.

    Sites like Roadfood.com benefit from these protections.

    The liability, if there is any, rests with the poster -- assuming you can find out who it is.  The courts are all over the place on whether web sites can be forced to reveal the identity of posters, as well as what the claimant must prove in order to compel that. 

    Pure opinion (statements that cannot be proven true or false) is absolutely protected by the First Amendment. False factual statements (things that can be proven true or false) can be actionable if they harm a reputation.  Opinions predicated on false factual statements can lose their constitutional protection.

    Yep, the Post article covered this, it's the poster getting sued, not Yelp. Evidentally Juries are more and more prone to award damages to the Plantiff.

    #4
    Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle
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    Re:Woman getting sued for Yelp posts. 2012/12/05 18:32:47 (permalink)
    If the "pot shots" are factually true, or purely personal opinion, I see nothing wrong with that. If the post is an intentional lie in order to harm the business, that's another story. But it's not as simple as allowing business owners to sue individuals on those grounds, because big corporations with big legal departments can sue everyone who posts a comment they don't like, true or not. Doesn't matter if they have a case - most individuals do not have the wherewithal or time to defend themselves, even if they are 100% in the right. End result: nobody posts anything critical for fear of getting sued.
    #5
    wanderingjew
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    Re:Woman getting sued for Yelp posts. 2012/12/05 19:27:03 (permalink)
    Having an opinion ...ie...."the food served to me tasted like a dead rat" is not grounds for a lawsuit.....in fact if someone is sued over this, the person being sued can file a counter suit for harrasment, pro se, and guess who's going to win

    However.......flat out making a false statement...ie..... "I was served a dead rat"....is grounds for a lawsuit...
     
     
    BTW, I find Yelp to be very reliable.....of course if a one hit wonder makes one post to either slam or praise a place you know it's not legit. if someone has posted dozen's or hundreds of reviews, then they are more than likely legit, I don't know of anyone who  posts on yelp on regular basis, complain that there reviews are not getting posted...... 
     
    #6
    Tony Bad
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    Re:Woman getting sued for Yelp posts. 2012/12/05 21:19:01 (permalink)
    wanderingjew
    However.......flat out making a false statement...ie..... "I was served a dead rat"....is grounds for a lawsuit... 

     
    Seems to me this was the subject of the article and discussion. 
    #7
    ces1948
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    Re:Woman getting sued for Yelp posts. 2012/12/05 21:42:18 (permalink)
    Just like a lot of things on the Internet "consumer review" sites which contain non vetted comments can often be over the top and I'm sure quite often false. Like WJ said it's how you say it.
    For example I went to a new small cafe the other day and had absolutely terrible biscuits and gravy. Personally I thought the gravy came from a package and the Biscuits were the same. I also thought the whole thing was microwaved into a terrible mess. I have no proof whatsoever that what I stated above was facts so I'm limited to saying IMO I had terrible tasting Biscuits and gravy.
    #8
    wanderingjew
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    Re:Woman getting sued for Yelp posts. 2012/12/05 21:45:31 (permalink)
    Tony Bad

    wanderingjew
    However.......flat out making a false statement...ie..... "I was served a dead rat"....is grounds for a lawsuit... 


    Seems to me this was the subject of the article and discussion. 

     
    Not necessarily, 
     
    I read the article, she referred to incomplete work and damage to her home- this is simply an opinion. However unless this contracter  was arrested, tried and convicted for allegedly stealing jewelry from her home - thats where the reviewer has a problem....
     
    Interestingly enough, the article indicates that juries tend to  favor the defendants because of the right to free speech and the right to express their opinions.
    #9
    Foodbme
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    Re:Woman getting sued for Yelp posts. 2012/12/05 22:58:54 (permalink)
    There are plenty of laws on the books related to Libel & Slander. Those take precedent I believe.
    The trick is proving it!
    #10
    cathyftr
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    Re:Woman getting sued for Yelp posts. 2012/12/27 23:28:55 (permalink)
    rumaki

    The liability, if there is any, rests with the poster -- assuming you can find out who it is.  The courts are all over the place on whether web sites can be forced to reveal the identity of posters, as well as what the claimant must prove in order to compel that. 


    This story was on our local radio station this morning.
     
    Finding out such posters...usually depending on the website this one can be easy. Lets say that you run a hotel only to fire someone who wasn't doing their job and then a few weeks later on Trip Advisor the "reviews" all of a sudden are saying that your hotel has bedbugs even though such a complaint wasn't even brought up in the past by any of your guests. Hmmmmmm  Who could the poster be ???
     
    Courts aside..some websites even if they don't advertise it will track down the ISP address if asked. Now once you find out whom wrote the post that will be up to you as to decide "what is next"  such as forget about it, send them a private message saying you know who they are to scare them hoping that they will never do it again, or will you file a lawsuit ???  Working in radio and TV for so many years I can tell ya the many of broadcast sites out there if you say ( true or not ) that  if you are from the CBS legal department..they WILL buck down and give you all the info you will need to know to find out who had wrote that post.
     
     
    post edited by cathyftr - 2012/12/27 23:49:32
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