Dentist Must Pay $80K in Yelp Review Case

Be careful what you sue for. Especially if you sue for defamation. California dentist Yvonne Wong sued Yelp.com and a patient’s parent who posted a negative review on Yelp.com. In Wong’s Yelp review case, first Yelp won a dismissal. Now the patient’s parent who wrote the review has won too. And Wong has to pay over $80,000 in attorney fees and costs to Yelp and the patient, reports mediapost.com. More and more people are turning to online reviews from sites like Yelp.com. A favorable review from Yelp can make a business boom. But a negative review can draw blood. A negative review can wreck a business, or destroy a professional’s reputation. So Yelp reviews are a double-edged sword. And it looks like a new industry has arisen to deal with online slash jobs. The Wong case made blog headlines back in November 2010, when a California appellate court dismissed Yelp.com from Wong’s lawsuit. That court ruled Yelp had protection from Dr. Wong’s lawsuit, because Yelp was publicizing information about mercury in dental amalgams–an issue of public interest. California’s “anti-SLAPP” laws protect defendants against defamation lawsuits that are brought to punish, deter or silence public debate on topics of public interest . And unlike ordinary libel and slander lawsuits, California anti-Slapp laws allow a court to impose attorney fees and costs against the losing party. Now Santa Clara Superior Court Judge Peter Kirwan has granted summary judgment to the patient’s parent who wrote the original post, and also ordered Wong to pay all the defendants’ attorney fees , reports DrBicuspid.com. So in the end, the Yelp review case hit Dr. Yvonne Wong in her pocketbook nerve. Ouch. Related Resources: The Yelp Question: Are Free Online Reviews Good? (FindLaw’s Free Enterprise) How to Avoid Being Defamed By Your Customers (FindLaw’s Free Enterprise) Libel and Slander (FindLaw) ISP Liability for the Acts of Its Customers (FindLaw) Immunity for Publishers Under Communications Decency Act (Citizens Media Law Project)

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Dentist Must Pay $80K in Yelp Review Case