Write a Bad Review … Get Sued

Filed in Local Search, Word of Mouth by Matt McGee on November 25, 2008 6 Comments

Consumerist today tells the story of Chris Norberg, a guy who left a negative review on Yelp about Dr. Steven Biegel, a chiropractor in San Francisco.

It looks like Norberg deleted his negative review from Yelp after getting some kind of cease and desist letter from Biegel’s attorney, but Norberg did leave this review/comment on Biegel’s business listing summarizing some of his complaints and explaining why the original review is gone.

The case appears to be winding its way through the court system now, and Norberg has a web page up at standforspeech.com explaining his side of the story.

This going to be worth watching, don’t you think?

Comments (6)

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  1. I think so long as you do not slander a person, there is nothing wrong with people relaying their experiences with the products and services they use – good or bad.

    I know I’ve posted both bad and good reviews of products and services I’ve come across. I’m just careful if it is a bad review to make sure I am not committing slander and liable.

    So long as a person is careful, our constitutional rights will allow us to continue submitting praises or put-downs online and protect us should someone wish to sue us in a court of law.

  2. M.M. says:

    As long as you tell the truth then I don’t think you have too much to worry about.

    If you have an actual site then being sued can actually turn out to be an excellent way to gain visibility and links – this happened to Aaron Wall over at SEO Book and he has openly talked about the positive (unexpected at the time) side effects of being sued.

  3. Matt McGee says:

    I’m sure you’re both correct about truth being a viable legal defense, but the other issue is that this Average Joe is suddenly having to mount a legal defense for leaving an opinion on a web site.

    Whether he wins the case or not, the cost to him of paying legal fees, time away from work and/or family, stress, etc., is terrible. Whether he wins in court or not, he still loses.

  4. Sameer says:

    I agree Matt, if this happens often – will people think twice before leaving a review of a bad experience they had with the business?

    To take it to extremes and thinking from the local search angle, there will be businesses with reviews and businesses without reviews.

    Does that mean search engines will have not use ratings as a reliable measure of relevancy?

  5. Loyda says:

    I think that is fare that I person can write whatever they want with proof of everything. we do have a really bad experience. and we are thinking in putting one. please let me know how to do it….this people need to be paying the bad experience that we just had
    I have pictures and receips of everything A LOT OF PROOFSS

  6. Drew J. says:

    Nothing wrong with this practice, just as long as it’s true. As always the truth is the Ultimate defense against suits…although it pays to understand the laws…

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