Aldrich Law Firm, Ltd.
Aldrich Law Firm, Ltd.

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When a Yelp review is libel

Providing a service to the public in Las Vegas always comes with a risk, since it is impossible to please everyone. Consumers often have the customer-is-always-right mentality, so if they are not completely satisfied by the service they paid for, some may become demanding and unreasonable. Forbes points out that if even just one of these people reports the perceived issue on a review website such as Yelp, it could cause as much as a 70 percent drop in profits—a potentially disastrous effect on a company’s bottom line.

Customers have the right to explain the circumstances surrounding their experience and why they are unhappy. However, when they create a post online while they are angry, their emotions could cloud their ability to relate the situation in a rational way. In fact, many have been known to exaggerate or lie in order to punish a company that did not fulfill their expectations. In these cases, some business owners may be able to file a lawsuit to protect themselves from the damaging impact.

To win a libel suit, Cornell University Law School’s Legal Information Institute explains that the written review must have been displayed in a way that allowed at least one other person to read it. Then, a business owner must demonstrate that the written review actually harmed the company, and that its claims are false. These four elements constitute defamation, and the person who wrote the post may be held liable for the financial damages caused if the court agrees with the evidence provided by the business owner.

John P. Aldrich
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