Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Woman sued over negative review on Yelp of a day care-preschool center in northern Virginia, as a trend of vendors fighting back continues

Another case involving a negative Yelp review has surfaced in northern Virginia.
The Horizon Child Development Center has sued a woman, Rebecca Gonzalez,  for $75000, after the woman posted a negative review of the day care center and preschool (in Fairfax VA) when her child apparently sustained a very minor injury there.  NBC Washington has a complete story and video here in a story by David Culver. 
The husband and wife who own the school say that just one negative review can destroy a business that it took years to build.  That seems to be more the practical issue than the literal truth of the mother’s posting – although truth is a defense to libel.  Perhaps the comment blew a very minor matter out of proportion, and it would be hard to say how that could affect a libel case.  There is, in defamation law, what we call an “opinion rule”, but it has to be clear that a statement of opinion is just that.   The plaintiffs say they asked the woman to take the post down, but she modified it and kept it up.
The woman’s attorney will ask a judge to dismiss the case.  
The case follows a trend of other cases in northern Virginia involving a carpet cleaner and a home improvement contractor.

According to NBC4, the plaintiffs say they were denied a bank loan because of a bad review.  That does sound hard to believe. 
I don’t write consumer reviews on Yelp or Angie’s List, although I do (beside on my own sites) write some movie and book reviews on Amazon.  Some medical providers have tried to enforce a “gag rule” before giving treatment, but I have never run into that practice personally. I am a “member” of Angie’s List and sometimes do look at it to find contractors.  Angie’s List heavily promotes its service by email (to me, at least). 

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