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

Yelp reviews lead to court ruling

Consumers in Virginia and around the country are increasingly turning to websites such as to get opinions on various restaurants and businesses when they are deciding where to eat or shop. Although the reviews are usually posted anonymously or under screen names, they are often relied upon and given great weight. A carpet cleaning business in Alexandria, Virginia, went to court seeking the names of people who left negative reviews on the Yelp website.

Attorneys for the company claimed that the persons making the posts were not actually customers, and asked for their names in order to bring a defamation action. The Court of Appeals of Virginia has ruled that Yelp, Inc., the owner and operator of the website, must turn over the names. Public Citizen, a nonprofit group, is representing Yelp and is considering an appeal to the Supreme Court of Virginia.

Yelp says that the anonymous comments are protected by the First Amendment, and it is the company's obligation to prove that the reviews are false. Some of the reviews accused the company of bait and switch tactics in its advertised promotions.

A business advertises and works hard to develop positive relationships with its customers. Word of mouth and public websites are an important way for a small business to become known to the public when they do not have funds for advertising. Disputes between business partners, suppliers, customers and competitors can just be part of doing business, but defamatory statements can cause significant harm to a company's reputation and may result in business litigation.

Source: My FOX DC, "Va. court rules Yelp has to reveal identities of anonymous negative reviewers of carpet cleaner ", Karen Gray Houston, January 09, 2014

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.