Super Lawyers
The top Attorneys in Virginia and
the Washington, D.C. metropolitan
area, only 5% of the attorneys
in the state are named in SuperLawyers
ATA NBTA | The National Board of Trial Advocacy Association of Trial Lawyers of America Virginia Trial Lawyers Association National Asociation of Distinguished Counsel | Nation's Top One Percent | NADC

Carpet cleaner sues Yelp to reveal identity of online reviewers

One of the benefits of online review sites is that consumers say what they thought of a business without their identities being made public. However, Yelp is embroiled in business litigation after a Virginia company sought to compel Yelp to produce user identifying information.

In July, the company sued seven Yelp users for defamation based on negative reviews. There were additional reviews containing similar comments. Those users were not sued. The plaintiff alleged that the reviews were false and may have been written by competitors to harm the company's reputation. The company served a subpoena on Yelp asking the company to identify the users. Yelp objected to the subpoena. The court found Yelp in contempt and imposed a $500 fine for not complying. The fine has been stayed pending appeal.

Public Citizen filed an amicus brief arguing that a person should be required to prove that a defamation suit has merit before compelling a company to release information on website users. State defamation laws prohibit a person from making an untrue factual statement about a person or a business if the statement is the type that is likely to harm the reputation of the subject. Reviewers are typically protected if they only state facts or their opinions of the service received.

A ruling in favor of the carpet cleaners in this case could have far-reaching ramifications on internet review sites. A local attorney may assist those whose businesses have been negatively impacted by anonymous online complaints or reviews to identify the persons who left the reviews and recover compensation for the harm to the businesses' reputations.

Source: The Consumerist, "Yelp Fights Against Outing Anonymous Reviewers In Lawsuit By Carpet Cleaner", Chris Morran, May 08, 2013

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information

DISCLAIMER: This website is designed to provide only general information; nothing contained herein constitutes legal advice nor is it an offer of legal representation. Use of this website is not intended in any way to create or convey the impression that such use of the website by any person, organization, or entity of any nature and/or kind constitutes any attorney-client relationship whatsoever and any information provided in this website shall not constitute legal advice. The use of any electronic communication available through this website with the Law Office of Richard L. Downey or any person associated with this website shall not constitute attorney-client relationship nor will any communication received by the Law Office of Richard L. Downey constitute an attorney-client communication. The Law Office of Richard L. Downey cannot make any guarantees as to the accuracy or currency of any information contained in or created in this website or the use of any link to another website contained in this website. The information that you obtain at this website is not, nor is it intended to be legal advice. You should consult a lawyer for individual advice concerning your own particular situation.

*The National Board of Trial Advocacy is accredited by the American Bar Association. Currently there is no procedure in the Commonwealth of Virginia for approving certifying organizations.