Guest post Provided by Reputation Stars
A Virginian’s Yelp review recently made it to the crime pages of the national dailies — few will be surprised to learn that it is not a legal first. Here’s the story. Jane Perez was not happy with the cosmetic repair work that Christopher Dietz carried out in her Fairfax, Virginia-home; she unloaded her unhappiness on Yelp and other review sites. There was no mincing of words.
Dietz’s business suffered and he sued Perez for $750,000 in damages, claiming Perez had defamed him. Perez said she stood by all the statements she made in her reviews concerning Dietz, but a judge ordered her to take down the parts of her reviews that Dietz took issue with. As it turns out, Perez had accused Dietz of doing shoddy work, and also, of stealing jewelry from her.
Lawyers are advising everyday online reviewers to think more carefully about the difference between opinion, which is protected by the First Amendment, and defamation, which is against the law. Needless to say, more and more businesses, and individuals, are seeking online reputation management services to deal with the impact of comments made about them on the Internet.
Even Perez got to experience the sting of a bad online reputation — Dietz’s response to her Yelp reviews were the first search result if her name was googled. She was not too happy about that, either.