State Supreme Court overturns Judge’s injunction in Yelp case
Jane Perez contracted Dietz Development to do some construction in her townhome, later claiming that damage was done to her home, work wasn’t completed that she was charged for, the contractor trespasses, and that jewelry came up missing during the project. As many consumers do, Perez turned to Yelp and Angie’s List to review the company harshly, for which she is now facing a $750,000 defamation suit, and a Virginia judge recently ordered her to alter her negative Yelp review after the police asserted that her claims did not check out.
Dietz Development alleges that Perez’s Yelp review has cost them new customers, and in addition to the judge’s injunction for Perez to edit the post to remove inaccuracies, the contractor has been granted a hearing next week, and a judge said he would consider another injunction against Perez, potentially limiting her from publishing similar reviews elsewhere.
Fast forward to 2013, and upon hearing of this showdown, Public Citizen and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a joint petition for Virginia’s Supreme Court to review the injunction, which very quickly overturned the Judge’s original injunction against Perez.
Injunction overturned, defamation suit rages on
While Perez’ comments may remain on Yelp as of now, she is still facing the $750,000 defamation suit still under way. Additionally, although the case is being referred to as a Yelp review, it is in reference to Perez’ other reviews online as well, not just Yelp.
“If plaintiffs think all they have to do to get something shut down about them is run to court and ask for it, a lot more are going to do that,” Paul Allen Levy, a lawyer with Public Citizen, told ArsTechnica.com. “It shouldn’t be easy to shut down speech, it should be hard. The win in the Virginia Supreme Court restores that balance. Defamation law is to protect people who are being truly defamed.”
One key takeaway several lawyers have shared with AGBeat is that negative reviews online are not illegal, but users of any review site should be cautious to be accurate and completely truthful in any online review.