Yelp Review Allowed to Stand

Remember the woman whose contractor sued her after she posted a scathing review on Yelp and Angie's List?

The Supreme Court of Virginia lifted a preliminary injunction against a homeowner who posted reviews on Yelp and Angie's List accusing a remodeling contractor of damaging her home, invoicing her for uncompleted work and stealing jewelry, according to Digital Trends.

If not lifted, the injunction would have required homeowner Jane Perez to censor her online reviews of contractor Christopher Dietz's business, Dietz Development. According to All Things Digital, Perez would have been required to remove the reference to missing jewelry and recharacterize the dispute between her and Dietz over nonpayment.

Perez's court battles are not over, however. In addition to requesting the preliminary injunction in October, Dietz filed a $750,000 defamation suit against Perez, and that suit is still working its way through court. Dietz has said Perez's reviews cost him about $300,000 in business.

The lifting of the preliminary injunction, helped in part by an appeal from the Public Citizen Foundation, is being heralded by some as a victory for free speech. “The decision confirms the importance of not shutting down public discussion on the Internet just because someone doesn’t like what’s being talked about,” said Paul Alan Levy, an attorney for Public Citizen. “Review sites like Yelp are vehicles for the free flow of ideas by helping consumers make informed decisions on how to spend their hard-earned dollars.”

Despite the lifting of the injunction, Dietz Development's Yelp page shows just two reviews as of publication of this article; neither discusses first-hand interaction with the company but instead discuss the dispute between Perez and Dietz.

The following is a statement from Yelp as reported by All Things Digital: "Consumer freedom of speech provides an important public service, protected by law. Yelp provides a valuable contribution to this dialogue by providing a two-way platform for consumers to share their experiences and for businesses to respond to their customers. Courts have consistently ruled that consumers have the right to share their truthful experiences. As a result, businesses that choose to sue their customers to silence them rather than address their comments, rarely prevail and often bring additional unwanted attention to the original criticism."

What are your thoughts on how this situation impacts the pool and spa industry? Share in the comments. 

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