While Yelp and other social media services have become considered a valuable tool for people seeking customer reviews, some companies are getting upset over negative customer reviews, and taking legal action against those who write them.
Nima Dayani, a dentist, has apparently sued five patients for negative reviews since 2012, accusing them of defaming him and hurting his future business, demanding financial compensation, ranging from $50,000 to $100,000. Two of the lawsuits, which complained of high medical costs, have been settled out of court. One defendant wrote a review that accused the dentist of misdiagnosing her problem, saying that he recommended expensive, unnecessary treatment, while another complained of an extremely long wait time, only to be told that her problem could not be diagnosed.
Dayani’s lawsuits have prompted Yelp to issue a warning to reviewers that his business may be “issuing questionable legal threats against reviewers,” and that reviewers who share their experiences “have a First Amendment right to express their opinions on Yelp.” Dayani argues that the lawsuits are credible due to the damaging nature of social media on a respectable business’ reputation.
Other business owners believe that negative reviews are helpful to their business. “We always try to look at the overall reviews,” says Sandra Williams of Hospitality Dental Group of Rancho Cucamonga. “That should tell you right there how you’re doing. If they are all negative reviews then you probably need to work on some things. People generally write reviews for a reason, so there must be some underlying problem that prompted that person’s need to write.”
Another case, involving retired military captain Jane Perez, ended up with a contractor filing a defamation suit against her when she wrote a negative review claiming misconduct by doing a poor job on her renovations, billing her for work he did not perform, and property theft. The contractor won the $750,000 lawsuit and got the judge to order Perez to re-write her review. The Supreme Court later overturned the ruling, saying that reviews should not be censored, citing freedom of speech.
If you are experiencing difficulty due to negligence and misconduct by a business whose product or service you purchased, the lawyers at Hodes Milman Liebeck are there for you in your time of need. Contact us today online at hmlm.com or call 866-730-1976 for a complimentary case evaluation.