A judge in Virginia has ordered a woman to change her negative Yelp review about a building contractor.
Christopher Dietz, owner of Dietz Development, filed a $750,000 lawsuit after customer—and Dietz’s former high school classmate—Jane Perez gave the company poor marks on Yelp and Angie’s List.
The High Cost of Defamation
The Internet defamation lawsuit stated that “plaintiffs have been harmed by these statements, including lost work opportunities, insult, mental suffering, being placed in fear, anxiety, and harm to their reputations.” Dietz said he has lost at least $300,000 because of the review.
In her review, Perez accused the company of damaging her Fairfax, Va., townhouse, trespassing, charging her for work that wasn’t done and stealing jewelry.
“I found my jewelry missing and Dietz was the only one with the key,” Perez wrote, awarding the company just one star. “Bottom line do not put yourself through this nightmare of a contractor.”
Perez has not filed a police report for the missing jewelry, and Dietz has not been charged with theft or trespassing. The lawsuit is the company’s second against Perez—one was filed in July 2011 by Dietz for unpaid invoices.
SBO Favored in Preliminary Injunction
Judge Thomas FortKort last week granted a temporary injunction in favor of Dietz Development. Perez was ordered to edit her online review to remove the parts about the jewelry.
In May, an Anaheim technology company and its chief executive won $1.56 million in an Internet defamation case against a blogger who accused them of stealing money from business associates.
“People stopped returning [the company’s] calls; it killed a valuable pipeline leading to big deals,” the company’s attorney Aaron Morris told the Orange County Register. “I told jurors that if someone said their accountant was a crook, they might ignore it because they never had any trouble with him, but they also might not refer him to others because any future problem might make them liable. That’s what’s so damaging about these Internet defamation cases."
Would you sue (or have you already sued) an online ranter? How do you handle negative online reviews?