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Yelp Reviewer Gets SLAPPed With 750K Lawsuit And Order To Alter Comments
TechCrunch ^ | December 7, 2012 | Gregory Ferenstein

Posted on 12/08/2012 4:32:58 PM PST by Jeff Winston

A woman is facing a $750,000 defamation lawsuit and has been ordered to alter a negative Yelp review of a home contractor after police found that her claims didn’t add up.

Dietz Development is claiming that Jane Perez’s scathing review has cost them new customers and, on Wednesday, a judge ordered a preliminary injunction for her to edit the post. Yelp and legal critics are worried that Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP)-related lawsuits could chill free speech, but business owners say that legal intervention is necessary in an age when online reviews can make or break a company. As the Internet gives the average citizen a greater voice, courts appear to be willing to hold their exercise of free speech to higher standards... (continued at link)

(Excerpt) Read more at techcrunch.com ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society; US: District of Columbia
KEYWORDS: freespeech; slapp
This article says "police found that her claims didn't add up." But they give no source for making that statement, and another, linked, article which seems to have been used as source material for this one says merely that "a police investigation revealed no conclusive evidence that Dietz employees had removed valuables from her home."

That's a far cry from establishing that her claims (which were that the company, Dietz Development, had done shoddy work and billed her for work that they didn't do, and that her jewelry was missing after they were there are false claims.

Dietz Development has sued the reviewer for $750,000. I don't know the reviewer's financial situation, but if she's like most ordinary Americans that sounds to me like an attempt to completely destroy her financially.

Yelp has reviews for Dietz Development here and here. So far, they don't seem to have enhanced their reputation any by suing a customer for (presumably) all she's worth.

1 posted on 12/08/2012 4:33:09 PM PST by Jeff Winston
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To: Jeff Winston

She accused them, seemingly falsely, of a crime. Her purpose was to destroy the company, based on false premises. They should own her.


2 posted on 12/08/2012 4:37:29 PM PST by EDINVA
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To: Jeff Winston

The article does not give out any info; therefore, I can’t make heads or tails of it.


3 posted on 12/08/2012 4:42:47 PM PST by NoGrayZone (For evil to triumph it is only necessary for good men to do nothing.)
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To: Jeff Winston
"currently only two reviews can be found, with one slamming the company for taking things to court."

Hmmmmm.

4 posted on 12/08/2012 4:45:30 PM PST by NoGrayZone (For evil to triumph it is only necessary for good men to do nothing.)
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To: EDINVA
Perez states that every statement she made was true.

"All relevant statements made by the Defendant were true."

So are you saying that the construction company should be able to destroy this woman, her finances and her future, for the rest of her life, just because she posted a true and honest review of her customer experience with this company?

Because that appears to be what you are saying.

5 posted on 12/08/2012 4:45:56 PM PST by Jeff Winston
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To: Jeff Winston
I caught on to Yelp after a friend suggested that I check their reviews on places that I already patronized often.

The reviews were terrible and did not match my experience. After more investigation I found that the more a business paid Yelp the better the reviews got.

I don't use Yelp at all since then.

6 posted on 12/08/2012 4:49:20 PM PST by Navy Patriot (Join the Democrats, it's not Fascism when WE do it, and the Constitution and law mean what WE say.)
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To: Jeff Winston

>>So far, they don’t seem to have enhanced their reputation any by suing a customer for (presumably) all she’s worth. <<

If someone comes after your livelihood, the gloves are off. After I destroyed them financially, I would get the title on their home and sew the soil with salt. Then I would come after them criminally.

There would not be a corner of the world they would be safe from my wrath.


7 posted on 12/08/2012 4:49:34 PM PST by freedumb2003 (Here comes bama claus here comes bama claus left down bama claus lane!)
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To: Jeff Winston

Probably the best way to handle this is to not give any review, unless you can give a god review.

For the consumer, the fact that some business might only have a few good reviews, or no reviews at all, will be a signal that it may not be a good business to deal with.

Just as, when an employer calls in regards to a potential hire,and doesn’t get much out of that previous employer, other than a confirmation of previous employment is an employers way of saying the former employee is a bad employee.


8 posted on 12/08/2012 4:50:22 PM PST by Jonty30 (What Islam and secularism have in common is that they are both death cults.)
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To: Jeff Winston

Being sued is far better than being shot or tarred and feathered.

Defamation has consequences


9 posted on 12/08/2012 4:52:45 PM PST by bert ((K.E. N.P. N.C. +12 .....The fairest Deduction to be reduced is the Standard Deduction)
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To: Jeff Winston

suing one of your customers.
bad karma


10 posted on 12/08/2012 5:20:31 PM PST by RockyTx
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To: RockyTx

That’s what I thought.


11 posted on 12/08/2012 5:22:30 PM PST by Jeff Winston
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To: Jeff Winston

The judge believed the police investigation of Perez’s claim about her ‘missing jewelry’ that didn’t ‘add up.’


12 posted on 12/08/2012 5:28:59 PM PST by EDINVA
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To: Jonty30

“Just as,when an employer calls in regards to a potential hire,and doesn’t get much out of that previous employer,other than a confirmation of previous employment is an employers way of saying the former employee is a bad employee.”

Not so.
The only thing a former employer is ALLOWED to say is “so and so worked here from x date to y date”.
That’s it.
That law was put in place to prevent/diminish blackballing.


13 posted on 12/08/2012 5:29:45 PM PST by WildHighlander57 ((WildHighlander57 returning after lurking since 2000))
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To: WildHighlander57

There is nothing illegal about praising an ex-employee, if that employee is praise-worthy, you just cannot say anything bad about an employee.

If an employer has nothing good to say, it is a signal unto itself that there’s probably a reason why an employer will just confirm employment and nothing more. It may have been put there to protect employees, but smart employers know how to use these regulations


14 posted on 12/08/2012 5:57:22 PM PST by Jonty30 (What Islam and secularism have in common is that they are both death cults.)
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To: Jeff Winston

Good. It is about freakin’ time.

Companies are constantly faced with “false” statements from unhappy consumers. Sometimes it is a real complaint valid through legal means.

Most anonymous reviews are rants and are not presenting all the facts.

And even if the company refutes the ‘claim,’ the review is often never deleted.


15 posted on 12/08/2012 6:35:54 PM PST by EBH (0bama is guilty of willful neglect of duty.)
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To: AdmSmith; AnonymousConservative; Berosus; bigheadfred; Bockscar; ColdOne; Convert from ECUSA; ...

I haven’t like the Dietz family since they bought that haunted house.

Thanks Jeff Winston.


16 posted on 12/08/2012 6:59:40 PM PST by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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To: Jeff Winston

One bad review on Yelp destroys a company?

Really?


17 posted on 12/08/2012 7:05:57 PM PST by 2banana (My common ground with terrorists - they want to die for islam and we want to kill them)
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To: 2banana

If a company breaks because of inaccurate reviews, then that company does not deserve to remain in business. How weak does it have to be? No competitive advantage and think that it deserves to remain open? It is surviving out there in the free market, including surviving vengeful consumers.


18 posted on 12/08/2012 7:10:41 PM PST by sagar
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To: Jeff Winston

My wife went to a doctor specifically to get a prescription renewed, which they said they could do, until they learned exactly what it was. “Sorry, we don’t fill prescriptions of that type. That will be $150 for the visit, though, please.” We’re torn between writing a negative review of this sort for this doctor, and risking retaliation, vs. just eating the $150 cost.


19 posted on 12/08/2012 7:57:15 PM PST by coloradan (The US has become a banana republic, except without the bananas - or the republic.)
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To: coloradan

There are a few here who seem to think that if you truthfully make your negative experience public, then the company is justified in attempting to take everything you’ve worked your entire life for.


20 posted on 12/08/2012 8:10:05 PM PST by Jeff Winston
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To: Jeff Winston

It would’ve been a much better idea to work things out otherwise.

Here’s the result, so far, of suing the reviewer:

They started with one bad review. Now they have an entire boatload of them.

One bad review may be mitigated by getting good reviews from other customers.

10 or 20 bad reviews: Not so easy.


21 posted on 12/08/2012 11:36:36 PM PST by Jeff Winston
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To: Jeff Winston

Are the 10 to 20 bad reviews from actual customers or phantom customers posted by Yelp employees?


22 posted on 12/09/2012 12:10:45 AM PST by JohnnyP
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To: coloradan

A lot of controlled substances require certain criteria be met in order for them to be refilled.

Based on your post your wife waited until in the office to let them know what it was for. Why didn’t she fully ask before even making the $150.00 appointment?

Blame the doctor ....but your likely culprit is the government regulation surrounding the type of ‘script.


23 posted on 12/09/2012 4:30:35 AM PST by EBH (0bama is guilty of willful neglect of duty.)
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To: EBH

My understanding is that she told the receptionist what the scrip was for, and that person said yes, and made the appointment, but then the doctor said no.


24 posted on 12/09/2012 7:27:14 AM PST by coloradan (The US has become a banana republic, except without the bananas - or the republic.)
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To: JohnnyP
Most of them are from people who think it's deplorable that the company has sued this woman instead of dealing with the matter in a more positive manner.

However, it appears that at least one former customer has stepped forward among them to say they also had a bad experience:

"Let me be short and sweet. I just deleted my highly negative review of this company, for fear of becoming embroiled in the ongoing lawsuit. My prior review (which got 2 votes for being useful - and two for being funny :-) - in the first 10 minutes online, suggesting a lot of interest in this story) offered sufficient detail to easily identify me and the property in question to the developer. Suffice it here to say, STEER CLEAR

The bottom line is: This company had a negative review to deal with, so they sued the reviewer. Now they have at least 14 negative reviews to deal with, as a result of their own actions.

25 posted on 12/09/2012 6:09:36 PM PST by Jeff Winston
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