The Sacramento Bee had an article this week shedding light on extortion tactics through Yelp. You can read the Sacramento Bee’s article here or check out CBS’s article. The article discusses co-owner Sonny Mayugba’s Red Rabbit Kitchen and Bar at 2718 J Street and his recent experience with Yelp Extortion. In essence, this type of extortion is not accomplished through traditional threats of violence, but threats of writing negative reviews online. In the articles, the customer allegedly demands a $100 gift card to stop him or her from posting a negative review and reporting the restaurant to the health department. These horrible tactics are actually becoming more common place as customers rely more and more on peer review websites, like Yelp. Good reviews could create a great flow of customers, but bad reviews can shut a restaurant’s doors. So what can a business owner do? One possibility is a suit for defamation.
Defamation is a false statement about another person that causes harm. Writing a false statement on Yelp may result in a claim for defamation. However, there are difficulties in successfully winning a claim for defamation. The plaintiff must prove that the statement was false and that the speaker knew or should have know of its falsity. Moreover, the plaintiff will need to demonstrate that there were actual damages as a result of the false statement. It is difficult to show damages to a restaurant because a decrease in customers could be caused by any number of factors and, thus, secluding it to the one particular Yelp review could be challenging. Furthermore, there are possible motions against the plaintiff referred to as “anti-SLAPP” motions. If the plaintiff loses the anti-SLAPP motion, they could face heavy costs and consequences. Contact us today if you’re considering taking legal action for defamation against a reviewer.
By: Trevor Carson Google
*The information provided in this post does not constitute legal advice or opinion. The information is for guidance purposes only. Individual situations vary and you should contact us for a consultation.
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