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Virginia Woman Is Sued For $750,000 After Writing Scathing Yelp Review

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the sticks-and-stones dept.

The Courts 424

First time accepted submitter VegetativeState writes "Jane Perez hired a construction company and was not happy with the work they did and alleged some of her jewelry was stolen. She submitted reviews on Yelp and Angie's List, giving the company all F's. The contractor is now suing her for $750,000. From the article: 'Dietz, the owner of Dietz Development, filed the Internet defamation lawsuit filed last month, stating 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." Perez's Yelp review accused the company of damaging her home, charging her for work that wasn't done and of losing jewelry. The lawsuit follows an earlier case against Perez, which was filed in July 2011 by Dietz for unpaid invoices. According to the recent filing, the two were high school classmates.'"

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Virgin (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42210391)

What does that have to do with anything. Confused.

Re:Virgin (1, Funny)

iplayfast (166447) | about 2 years ago | (#42210625)

Who would have thunk it? On US citizen suing another. Oh the shock of it all!

HEY INTERNET LOOK AT THAT GUY! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42210413)

This guy just bit off way more than he can chew.

Ya done goofed, son! The consequences will never be the same.

Shrug (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42210433)

freedom of speech

Re:Shrug (4, Informative)

Raven42rac (448205) | about 2 years ago | (#42210441)

Doesn't apply to defamation/slander.

Re:Shrug (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42210461)

I think everyone knows that our governments hate freedom of speech.

Re:Shrug (0)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | about 2 years ago | (#42210701)

I think everyone knows that our governments hate freedom of speech.

Thank you, captain obvious. Fortunately some of our laws were made during the brief time when the government was run by the people.

Re:Shrug (3, Insightful)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 2 years ago | (#42210757)

Fortunately some of our laws were made during the brief time when the government was run by the people.

When was that? Or do you mean run by the people who were white male landowners who didn't pick the losing side in a recent war?

Re:Shrug (4, Funny)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | about 2 years ago | (#42210797)

Fortunately some of our laws were made during the brief time when the government was run by the people.

When was that? Or do you mean run by the people who were white male landowners who didn't pick the losing side in a recent war?

Yep, those are the ones I mean.

Re:Shrug (4, Informative)

kthreadd (1558445) | about 2 years ago | (#42210463)

Unless it's true!

Re:Shrug (4, Insightful)

Raven42rac (448205) | about 2 years ago | (#42210499)

Correct, it has to both be false and malicious.

Re:Shrug (5, Insightful)

Keith111 (1862190) | about 2 years ago | (#42210649)

And if it's not, behold the dreaded Streisand effect.

Re:Shrug (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42210893)

For fraud it has to be malicious. For defamation it merely has to be false (incompetence counts).

Re:Shrug (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42210947)

And Perez has the burden of proof. So far I'm not on her side.

Re:Shrug (4, Informative)

Shoten (260439) | about 2 years ago | (#42210999)

Yes, but you can easily make the case that objectively false statements (as were made in this case) on a website intended to guide people in choosing a vendor are inherently malicious. It's not a casual conversation; it's going to a place whose sole purpose is to drive business towards or away vendors, and making untruthful statements. The woman didn't just give her opinion, but make non-subjective statements that were false on a website that she knew was a basis for reputation. That meets the standard for malice in my book.

Re:Shrug (2)

jamesh (87723) | about 2 years ago | (#42211055)

Correct, it has to both be false and malicious.

Close. It would have to be false, malicious, and a provable statement of fact. There are plenty of situations in which someone could express an opinion about you which was both defamatory and completely unprovable.

Re:Shrug (1, Flamebait)

Gordonjcp (186804) | about 2 years ago | (#42210937)

This is why the US needs to update its antiquated libel laws to be more like the law in the UK. Over here, if what she says is true then there is simply no way she can lose. In the US system, anyone can say anything - true or untrue - they like about anyone else (yes, even you) and unless you've got much deeper pockets than them there's nothing you can do about it.

In the UK, the person telling the truth wins. In the US, the person with the most money to pay for lawyers wins. I prefer our way.

Re:Shrug (4, Informative)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 2 years ago | (#42211063)

Funny. Exactly backwards. Truth is not a defense to libel in England. They even make jokes about it on southpark Tom Cruise: 'I'll sue you in England'

Re:Shrug (2)

jamesh (87723) | about 2 years ago | (#42211035)

Unless it's true!

Truth isn't always a defense against defamation in all jurisdictions. The statement "I think they might have stolen my stuff" is obviously true (she really does think this), as is the statement "I think you are sexually attracted to sheep" (let say for arguments sake that i really do think that). If I posted that somewhere and you were in a job that involved sheep and your job opportunities suffered because of it then it could be deemed to have defamed you without actually lying...

Re:Shrug (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42210527)

Yes it does. Freedom of speech is a restriction on the power of the Legislative Branch ("Congress shall make no law ..."). It doesn't mean that the Judicial Branch can't give orders to ban speech (gag orders) or the Executive Branch can't order its workers to censor information (classified information). Additionally, it doesn't mean that one citizen can sue another one for slander (but at the same time that slander and libel aren't crimes).

Re:Shrug (1)

Raven42rac (448205) | about 2 years ago | (#42210693)

Congress didn't make the laws, the individual states did. Womp womp.

Re:Shrug (1)

Desler (1608317) | about 2 years ago | (#42210829)

You need to look up the incorporation doctrine [wikipedia.org] . The First Amendment has applied to the states for 65 years now.

Re:Shrug (1)

Raven42rac (448205) | about 2 years ago | (#42210849)

Well cool, it still hasn't been found to apply to slander/defamation/libel cases.

Re:Shrug (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42210855)

A little thing called the 14th Amendment incorporation ... 1st amendment incorporated to state governments

Re:Shrug (4, Funny)

Raven42rac (448205) | about 2 years ago | (#42210905)

Calm down I've already been told. I was wrong on the internet.

Re:Shrug (1)

Raven42rac (448205) | about 2 years ago | (#42210723)

The first amendment has been interpreted by common and case law to not protect you in cases of slander or libel. If you're arguing for an entirely literal interpretation of the first amendment well then I'm not entirely sure what to tell you.

Re:Shrug (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42210631)

Congress shall make no law, you fuck.

Re:Shrug (1)

lightknight (213164) | about 2 years ago | (#42210919)

Ah, but they did.

So, according to the Constitution, what are we supposed to do when Congress violates the Constitution?

Re:Shrug (1)

Firehed (942385) | about 2 years ago | (#42210835)

It does, but you can still sue for damages.

Either way, sounds like Not News to me. The fact that it's based on a Yelp review rather than a sign tacked up somewhere doesn't change the nature of the case.

Re:Shrug (4, Interesting)

realityimpaired (1668397) | about 2 years ago | (#42210493)

Free speech doesn't mean no consequences. Libel and Slander are two very well known examples of situations where your speech has consequences.

This will hinge on proving that her statements (particularly about the stolen jewelry) were true. If they were, then she's protected by free speech. If they prove to have been false, then she's screwed.

Re:Shrug (4, Informative)

diamondmagic (877411) | about 2 years ago | (#42210541)

"No consequences" is misleading.

"Free speech" means the government will not bring force against you for your speech. False and malicious speech, however, is a type of fraud: a different crime.

Re:Shrug (4, Informative)

cob666 (656740) | about 2 years ago | (#42210591)

If they were, then she's protected by free speech.

Freedom of Speech has NOTHING to do with this case. Freedom of Speech applies only to the governments ability to restrict speech and doesn't apply to what you can say in an online forum. If what she said is in fact true then libel doesn't apply because truth is an absolute defense against libel and slander.

Re:Shrug (1)

maz2331 (1104901) | about 2 years ago | (#42210787)

"The lawsuit follows an earlier case against Perez, which was filed in July 2011 by Dietz for unpaid invoices."

Wouldn't that earlier suit have needed to prove that the work was done to satisfy the original contract in order for the court to order her to pay the bills? I want to see what the outcome of that case was - her negative reviews may have been a case of "sour grapes" over being ordered to pay a bill that was legitimately owed, or they could be follow-up to an actually shoddy job.

At this point, none of us have enough information to even speculate as to the eventual outcome of this case.

Re:Shrug (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42210971)

Its a civil suit, its passed on preponderance of the evidence. The other side has to show evidence that those statements are false.

Re:Shrug (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42211067)

How do you prove a negative? That is, how do you prove that something is missing?

Re:Shrug (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42210537)

freedom of speech

I really wish the founding fathers had outlawed freedom of blatant idiocy.

Protip: Take a high school civics class; you might finally understand exactly what 'freedom of speech' means and why it doesn't apply in this situation.

Bonus Hint: It has everything to do with government censorship, and nothing to do with free reign to slander and spew libel.

Re:Shrug (1)

Fluffeh (1273756) | about 2 years ago | (#42210543)

freedom of speech

Freedom of speech means you are allowed to say it, not that you aren't then responsible for what you said. If you say something slanderous, defame someone you are still liable to be held accountable for your statements, but you can still live in the joy of being able to go out right afterwards, say it all again and start the process over.

That's not a freedom (1)

Hentes (2461350) | about 2 years ago | (#42210785)

You are also free to kill someone you just have to face the consequences afterwards.

Re:That's not a freedom (1)

Desler (1608317) | about 2 years ago | (#42210863)

Yes, it is freedom. "Freedom of speech" meant that you would get no governmental reprisal for saying something. It has never applied to slander and defamation of someone else. This is common law precedent predating the founding of the US.

Re:Shrug (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42210663)

go put your real name up so i can blog about how you molest kids, steal from your neighbors, etc

Who are they? (0, Troll)

gelfling (6534) | about 2 years ago | (#42210435)

Apple?

Re:Who are they? (0, Offtopic)

kthreadd (1558445) | about 2 years ago | (#42210489)

Has Apple actually done something like that?

Re:Who are they? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42210513)

Yes, iTunes for Windows.

Was this libel? (1)

klingers48 (968406) | about 2 years ago | (#42210437)

If not and there was demonstrable harm to the property, will this even make it to trial?

Re:Was this libel? (4, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 years ago | (#42210545)

I'm not a fancy lawyer or nothing; but this [citmedialaw.org] suggests that it could.

Specifically: "In Virginia, a statement that does any of the following things amounts to defamation per se:
(some irrelevant ones omitted)
hurts the plaintiff in his or her profession or trade."

A nasty yelp review would reasonably seem to be something that would hurt a contractor in their profession or trade. However, in order to be defamatory, the statement has to be a false statement of fact. If what she says turns out to be substantially true, he can just go cry about it(and "Nasty yelp review upheld in court of law" probably doesn't help your PR any). If she is lying or terribly ill-supported, though...

Re:Was this libel? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42210573)

Seems like she'll need to prove whether or not it was in fact the construction company that stole the jewelry.

Re:Was this libel? (1)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | about 2 years ago | (#42210621)

From the link you provided

To be “actionable,” the statement must be a false statement of fact.

A review score is an opinion. Her unhappyness is also an opinion. He would have to show the fact statements in the review were lies. Specifically he would have to prove that Jewelry was not stolen.

Re:Was this libel? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42210695)

A review score is an opinion. Her unhappyness is also an opinion. He would have to show the fact statements in the review were lies. Specifically he would have to prove that Jewelry was not stolen.

It's a civil case. No one needs to prove anything.

However, your main point is worth reiterating. If you must give someone a negative review, avoid stating any facts. Keep it to your opinion. Things like "I felt the quality of work was very poor. They didn't do what I expected. I'd recommend using someone else." are all perfectly safe and just as damaging.

Re:Was this libel? (1)

Zaelath (2588189) | about 2 years ago | (#42210703)

You're confusing criminal law and civil; as the defendant she's the one with the burden of proof.

Re:Was this libel? (2)

Zaelath (2588189) | about 2 years ago | (#42210729)

To add: he's got to prove the damages to his business first, then the burden shifts to her to prove his business ripped her off.

Re:Was this libel? (4, Interesting)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 2 years ago | (#42210837)

You're confusing criminal law and civil; as the defendant she's the one with the burden of proof.

Nitpick: Since this is civil court, she doesn't have to "prove" anything. She just has to present enough evidence to show that her accusations are probably true. A "preponderance of the evidence", is a much lower hurdle than the "no reasonable doubt" standard of criminal court.

Re:Was this libel? (1)

Zaelath (2588189) | about 2 years ago | (#42210921)

Yeah, the reasoning being "no one's being jailed or killed by the court".

It seems a reasonable standard, until you see it being applied by Judge Judy (is that still on?)

Re:Was this libel? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42210705)

He would have to show the fact statements in the review were lies. Specifically he would have to prove that Jewelry was not stolen.

What? No. More likely than not she'll just have to post a retraction of some kind at her own expense and remove her Yelp review.

This is a big problem though. The place I work at has had quite a few bogus statements made in Yelp reviews, I suspect to net the reviewer more points. Just outright bullshit. But history shows that calling people out on their bullshit does more harm than good (it just looks bad)... so you just cross your fingers that most people won't be lying assholes.

I try not to read many individual reviews for places before I go, because I know how bogus they can be without any corrective response. I do occasionally use aggregate ratings though if the number of ratings filed is pretty high.

Re:Was this libel? (1)

beltsbear (2489652) | about 2 years ago | (#42210755)

He would only need to prove that it there were lies on her part that were substantial. He would not need to prove the entire review false. He would not need to prove her jewelry was not stolen. Statements like "I think he did a poor job" or "he was rude" are acceptable if true and hard to disprove.

Re:Was this libel? (4, Informative)

Kjella (173770) | about 2 years ago | (#42210813)

A review score is an opinion. Her unhappyness is also an opinion. He would have to show the fact statements in the review were lies. Specifically he would have to prove that Jewelry was not stolen.

That's far from the only "fact", there's at least three in the summary that are not opinion

  Perez's Yelp review accused the company of
1. damaging her home,
2. charging her for work that wasn't done and
3. of losing jewelry.

Those are all matters of fact, not opinion the court could look into. Also, this is a civil case not a criminal trial so the standard is "preponderance of evidence". Can she offer any evidence she had the jewels? Did she file a police complaint? The court system won't just take her word for it, if she's just throwing out accusations without a shred of evidence he might not have to prove a thing and still win. After all, how could he prove that jewels that doesn't exist haven't gone missing?

Re:Was this libel? (3, Informative)

rsborg (111459) | about 2 years ago | (#42210861)

From the link you provided

To be “actionable,” the statement must be a false statement of fact.

A review score is an opinion. Her unhappyness is also an opinion. He would have to show the fact statements in the review were lies. Specifically he would have to prove that Jewelry was not stolen.

The score is opinion and even if the contractor was the best in the world, she could review with a 1 star and it's all completely subjective and not debatable.

Her assertion that the contractor stole her jewelry is definitely objective and should be falsifiable. If it's false, and she did his with intent to harm, she's committed slander/libel.

Push push push (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42210449)

They are just making problems like child pron harder to solve as they force people to adopt an online lifestyle of hiding their identity in order to avoid legal entanglements over bullshit.

I'm actually quite surprised we haven't seen a dedicated p2p darknet yet.... but they'll keep pushing such a thing to existence with all this nonsense.

Re:Push push push (2)

preaction (1526109) | about 2 years ago | (#42210531)

Maybe YOU haven't seen one.

Re:Push push push (2)

Opportunist (166417) | about 2 years ago | (#42210713)

There is no such thing.

Now HUSH!

All your base (0)

stevedmc (1065590) | about 2 years ago | (#42210451)

are belong to us.

why is this news for nerds (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42210471)

Because it involves the internet? or Yelp?

Re:why is this news for nerds (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42210523)

because the reputation of nerds on internet is pretty bad too... maybe they should sue as well

Re:why is this news for nerds (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42210567)

nerds are used to that though, ipso facto, it isn't news to them...

This could have been prevented... (0, Flamebait)

tomjonesonrepeat (2783637) | about 2 years ago | (#42210487)

by reputation.com

Yelp should idemnify her (4, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | about 2 years ago | (#42210575)

If posting to Yelp is a huge financial risk, the site will quickly die.

Re:Yelp should idemnify her (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42210685)

Why would you indemnify people from committing crimes, is it even possible to do such a thing? Yelp is better off without such people.

Re:Yelp should idemnify her (4, Insightful)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about 2 years ago | (#42210715)

Why would they do that? That would be an open invitation for every rival organization in town to post patently false statements about every other organization, all without having to concern themselves with the fact that they're engaging in libel. Placing the burden on the reviewer is the right way to handle this, since it ensures that there is pressure on them to only report facts that are accurate representations of what took place. It's work fine up until now, but without that liability, everything would fall apart.

Re:Yelp should idemnify her (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42211017)

Why would they do that? That would be an open invitation for every rival organization in town to post patently false statements about every other organization, all without having to concern themselves with the fact that they're engaging in libel.

You're not very familiar with Yelp, are you? This is pretty much what happens.

Though, there are plenty of genuine reviews for most places, so whatever noise is thrown in usually gets weeded out. All things considered, it actually works pretty well.

Re:Yelp should idemnify her (1)

uslurper (459546) | about 2 years ago | (#42210779)

Bullshit. If you are posting something both false and with the intent to financially harm another individual or company, you should be accountable for your actions.

For example:
"Lincoln is a Natzi and should be shot in the head"

Is an example of something that one could be held liable for (if lincoln were alive today)

Or if a newspaper were to publish a review like "Apples iPhone is a peice of junk with a 1 inch screen and battery life of 10 minutes and cannot make a call"
They would be in the same boat.

-Now if the original Yelp poster had said "I had a very unpleasant experience and will not use their services again", that would have been fine. Or if she filed charges of theft and the company was found guilty, then she could post what happened.

What I dont get is that the contractor I beleive can remove bad posts if they sign up for Yelp. Maybe they didn't know. Maybe that is not true anymore.

Re:Yelp should idemnify her (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42210853)

I think the parent poster is correct. Courts don't see content posting sites as a conduit for information shared by others (such as how ISPs can get away with transmitting child porn and they are not at fault). Because: tor. Tor cases have already set the precedent that says, you can't use the "I'm only a network retransmitting the information of others" defense. This would obviously make too much sense!

Re:Yelp should idemnify her (3, Interesting)

nmb3000 (741169) | about 2 years ago | (#42210913)

If posting to Yelp is a huge financial risk, the site will quickly die.

Sadly, it looks like they're going the other way.

Here's the Yelp page for Dietz Development [yelp.com] . Look at the reviews and you can see that Yelp has been censoring them pretty heavily. All of them are from the last day or two and the review in question has been removed.

This was a great opportunity for Yelp to stand up for consumer rights and freedoms, but instead they've stuck their head in the sand. Even if they'd put a notice at the top of her review saying that "the statements here are not those of Yelp's, blah blah blah lawyer speak" that would have been fine. However, they've shown they have no backbone and won't stand behind their users.

What if Slashdot editors deleted comments anytime somebody looked at them wrong; what effect would that have on the quantity and quality of the discussion here? There's only been a tiny handful of times that a comment here has been censored -- hopefully it stays that way.

I've never used Yelp before because I wasn't real familiar with them. Now that I am I'll never use them in the future.

Re:Yelp should idemnify her (5, Informative)

nmb3000 (741169) | about 2 years ago | (#42210969)

Just found the actual comment she left via the Daily Mail [dailymail.co.uk] :

This is the text of Perez's original review posted on Angie's List in August 2012.

Overall: F

Price: F

Quality: F

Responsiveness: F

Punctuality: F

Professionalism: F

Description Of Work: Dietz Development was to perform: painting, refinish floors, electrical, plumbing and handyman work. I was instead left with damage to my home and work that had to be reaccomplished for thousands more than originally estimated.

Member comments: My home was damaged' the "work" had to be re-accomplished; and Dietz tried to sue me for "monies due for his "work." I won in summary judgement (meaning that his case had no merit). Despite his claims, Dietz was/is not licensed to perform work in the state of VA. Further, he invoiced me for work not even performed and also sued me for work not even performed. Today (six months later) he just showed up at my door and '"wanted to talk to me." I said that I "didn't want to talk to him," closed the door , and called the police. (The police said his reason was that he had a "lien on my house"; however this "lien" was made null and void the day I won the case according to the court.) This is after filing my first ever police report when I found my jewelry missing and Dietz was the only one with a key. Bottom line do not put yourself through this nightmare of a contractor.

If that kind of review is worth $750,000 in damages then the Internet is boned. I thought the RIAA's damage calculations were bad -- There must be a trillion dollars worth of "harmful" reviews for places on Google Maps alone!

Ok .. bad work, damage, theft (4, Interesting)

OzPeter (195038) | about 2 years ago | (#42210581)

So where are:

1. The complaint/lawsuit for restoration of damage to her house?
2. The complaint/lawsuit for the work that was not done (but apparently billed)?
3. The police report/lawsuit detailing the theft of the jewelry?

All of the above are things that should be taken seriously if they actually happened. Complaining on Yelp/Angies List only and not following through in the correct legal channels gives credence to the lawsuit against her.

So WTF is this doing on /. anyway? This just seems like it is here because it's a typical lawsuit but a computer is involved

Re:Ok .. bad work, damage, theft (2)

p0p0 (1841106) | about 2 years ago | (#42210619)

The only thing that pisses me off about this is how much they are suing for. There is no way someone can pay that amount of money back in their lifetime, and they surely didn't do that much damage to you. Why aren't these sort of things set at a limit? If they are, why is it so bloody high?

Re:Ok .. bad work, damage, theft (1)

Jack9 (11421) | about 2 years ago | (#42210699)

> why is it so bloody high?

Because, in the US, you can sue for any reason (even faulty reasoning or unactionable claims) with any stipulation on what you are seeking, generally speaking. Different localities have differing laws to mitigate this type of stupidity, but I guess not that county.

Re:Ok .. bad work, damage, theft (1)

rodarson2k (1122767) | about 2 years ago | (#42210959)

The damages to a Local Contracting Company for one bad review on Yelp are apparently more money than the average contractor makes in a lifetime.

Of course, 700k of that will go to his lawyer, so it comes out to a semi-reasonable amount.

Re:Ok .. bad work, damage, theft (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42210945)

We have a cap in Indiana of $500,000 dollars for gross negligence and malpractice if a surgeon cuts off the wrong leg so that you lose both legs. It's going to go way down now.

Re:Ok .. bad work, damage, theft (2)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 2 years ago | (#42211083)

TFA says he's suing for $750k but only claiming damages of $300k
So in reality, the maximum he'll get is $300K + lawyers' fees (assuming he can prove the Yelp post resulted in $300k of damages)

If the State of Virginia prosecutes her for libel, the maximum fine is $500.

Re:Ok .. bad work, damage, theft (5, Funny)

Xtifr (1323) | about 2 years ago | (#42210635)

So WTF is this doing on /. anyway? This just seems like it is here because it's a typical lawsuit but a computer is involved

Hey, it's enough of a difference to make it patentable. :)

Re:Ok .. bad work, damage, theft (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42210659)

Your patent is denied...

This just seems like it is here because it's a typical lawsuit but a computer is involved

Now if you were to have said

This just seems like it is here because it's a typical lawsuit on a mobile device

Then that would be a whole different ballgame...

Re:Ok .. bad work, damage, theft (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42210707)

Careful, talk like that get's you negative moderation around here apparently..

linky [slashdot.org]

Re:Ok .. bad work, damage, theft (4, Insightful)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | about 2 years ago | (#42210731)

Online reviews are a pretty big part of the internet. Yelp is one of the most popular websites on the internet.

If writing a review or using Yelp can get you sued for $750k then that would have huge ramifications for internet users and prominent internet companies like Yelp.

It also illustrates the interesting new territory we enter where users are demanding the rights of "media" and being granted publishing rights but not educated in the rules and practices that protect you as a publisher. Part of breaking down and democratizing the access to global access and speech is that suddenly everyone is a publisher not just from a power standpoint but also from a legal and liability standpoint.

Re:Ok .. bad work, damage, theft (1)

Altrag (195300) | about 2 years ago | (#42211015)

Which suggests there should be a difference in law distinguishing between publishing (commercial) and "publishing" (rambling on your favorite forum.)

There's already a distinct difference from a user perspective -- if something is published in the Wall Street Journal, people assign it huge credibility. On the other hand, "these guys suck!" posted by J.Random.Dumbass on Yelp or Slashdot or anywhere else is pretty much ignored.

We (as users) will check the average *'s on review sites but we don't generally put a lot of faith in any single review because people have something the law doesn't -- logical reasoning and a concept about how people work.

The law is supposed to have that (in the form of a judge being impartial and not a complete moron) but implementation is pretty spotty since well.. judges are people too and nobody is completely impartial about much of anything (never mind if someone's slipping them a few bills behind the scenes.)

I suspect that in absence of the woman providing proof (especially the jewelry thing) that the company will probably win because regardless of circumstance, that is "publishing" and therefore libel.

But I also suspect that the $750k will be reduced to sub-$10k unless the judge is a complete asshat and/or has zero concept of what sites like yelp.com are for and allow users to do. (Well, things might also change if its discovered that she's plastered the post all over multiple sites. That goes from pissed off ranting to intentional damage to the business at that point.)

Re:Ok .. bad work, damage, theft (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42210821)

>So WTF is this doing on /. anyway? This just seems like it is here because it's a typical lawsuit but a computer is involved

If it's good enough for the patent office it's good enough for Slashdot.

Oblig. xkcd (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42210595)

Talk about being an insecure loser... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42210613)

... including lost work opportunities, insult, mental suffering, being placed in fear, anxiety, and harm to their reputations.

Yeah, riiight. I know the effects of actual mental harm. I have been a victim of it all my life. And: This is not one of those cases.
If a simple Internet comment causes that to you, then you already needed a therapy, long before the comment, as you have to seriously rethink your self-confidence issues. (PROTIP: It's all in your head. The comment can't do anything to you, unless you validate it. E.g. with a defensive reaction, showing that it needs to be defended from in the first place. But I think in that case, you just won the world championship. Congratulations.)

Re:Talk about being an insecure loser... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42210857)

PROTIP: That's how all libel lawsuits are worded.

I see the Internet is involved but ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42210627)

has the world run out of Apple vs Samsung topics or something?

did she file a police report? (4, Insightful)

alen (225700) | about 2 years ago | (#42210641)

was the contractor convicted of the crime?
did she win a civil lawsuit for the home damage?

No? then she deserves to be sued. You can't bad mouth people and spread false information about them without being able to prove it

Mystery solved (1)

ildon (413912) | about 2 years ago | (#42210647)

According to the recent filing, the two were high school classmates.

Nothing to see here. Move along.

Let me do the talking. (3)

westlake (615356) | about 2 years ago | (#42210653)

The lawsuit follows an earlier case against Perez, which was filed in July 2011 by Dietz for unpaid invoices.

The first thing a lawyer will tell you to do when faced with a lawsuit is to keep your big mouth shut.

Don't feed ammunition to the plaintiff's attorneys.

Don't dig yourself in to a deeper hole.

SLAPP (5, Insightful)

pwizard2 (920421) | about 2 years ago | (#42210671)

This sounds like a S.L.A.P.P. suit (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation). Basically, if someone fucks you over and you speak out about it, they sometimes retaliate by suing you. The plaintiff gambles on the likelihood that the victim will just slink away rather than go through an emotionally-damaging (and expensive) legal battle and the bad guy basically wins. These lawsuits are weapons... it's not about justice.

Awkward (3, Funny)

_UnderTow_ (86073) | about 2 years ago | (#42210679)

"two were high school classmates."

That's going to make for an awkward High School reunion.

Lemme get this straight (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 2 years ago | (#42210735)

He sued her over unpaid invoices. She hired him again. He accepted work from someone who didn't pay bills before.

I really have no idea why they even WANT to do business with each other anymore. Could it possibly be that the whole crap has NOTHING to do with his work, her jewelry or anything but two kids who somehow crossed each other at high school (e.g. one wanted to go out with the other but got rejected) and who didn't grow out of it, and now they're clogging the courts with their childish bickering?

Re:Lemme get this straight (4, Informative)

Obfuscant (592200) | about 2 years ago | (#42211073)

He sued her over unpaid invoices. She hired him again. He accepted work from someone who didn't pay bills before.

How do you know this? We know there was an earlier suit over unpaid bills. We know there was a review claiming damages to the home and lost jewelry. We don't know that she hired him again after the first lawsuit or that he accepted a second job. For all we know the bad review was a poor attempt at getting back at the contractor for the earlier lawsuit.

I really have no idea why they even WANT to do business with each other anymore.

You have no idea that they want to do business with each other anymore, so wondering why they want to is a bit premature.

I can't wait... (1)

uslurper (459546) | about 2 years ago | (#42210809)

I can't wait for this to be on JUDGE JUDY.

Careful with contractors in your State (3)

AlienSexist (686923) | about 2 years ago | (#42210891)

Contractors are people you don't screw around with. Some states, like Texas, allow contractors (even auto repair shops) to put a lien on your property if you do not pay them. The fine print of some Mortgage Loans require that you notify them immediately if any liens are placed on the property. Failure to comply might allow the mortgage lender to force you to buy absurdly priced insurance (like 3x-4x market rate) from their selected insurer. Then you have all the hassle of clearing up the title and being unable to sell the property until things are properly cleaned up.

I've personally had a case where a contractor vanished but all his sub-contractors continued to work and deliver materials. The contractor didn't pay them so we had to. At least the sub-contractors got paid for the work they did do (which was quite excellent). We had to sue the contractor's company and get a judgement. There's nothing to collect, however, and the owner is now in prison. Not because of his dealings with us but because he decided to pretend to be a cop, lure "models" to a hotel, then sexually assault them while threatening arrest. Had to do a double-take on the evening news when his portrait was on the screen along with his full name.

then shouldnt all slashdotters get sued ? (1)

detain (687995) | about 2 years ago | (#42210895)

Most people here constantly posts their opinions on people and companies relating to every article that passes through. While alot of us back up our posts with facts (as we know them) and links, but we're all basically doing the exact same thing she is. My opinion is that she falls in the same category as any of us. That being said what she posted I think should be protected by law unless perhaps she knowingly made up some of her claims. As long as she believed her claims to be true (regardless of wether they were or not) I think she should be allowed (by law) to post all she wants.

Re:then shouldnt all slashdotters get sued ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42211009)

Christopher Dietz also murdered those kids that he stalked, lured, groomed, and raped.

Is this real? (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about 2 years ago | (#42210911)

It sounds like the script for a Lifetime movie.

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