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Free Speech and Slander : Swingers Discussion 213033
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TOPIC: Free Speech and Slander
Created by: vabeachcouple33
Original Starting post for this thread:
I'm starting this thread in politics because I'm pretty sure it will end up here anyway. More details below the line, but quickly, a woman is being sued for posting a negative review on Yelp and Angie's list, and at this point the plaintiff has won an injunction to force her to edit her reviews while the case proceeds.

In short, she not only claims he did shoddy work, but accuses him of vandalizing her home and stealing jewelry from it. A police investigation found no evidence of criminal action.

The defendant claims this is a free speech issue. The plaintiff claims this is a defamation and slander issue, which is not protected by freedom of speech insofar as she is accusing him of criminal action with which he has not been charged.

What say you? ----------------------- A judge in Virginia has ordered a woman to change her negative Yelp review about a building contractor after the business won a key legal battle.

Jane Perez was slapped with a $750,000 lawsuit by Dietz Development after she publicly logged complaints about construction work the company performed on her home.

In her write-ups on the popular business review sites Yelp and Angie's List, Perez accused the company of damaging her house, trespassing and stealing jewelry.

On Wednesday, Judge Thomas FortKort granted a temporary injunction in favor of Dietz Development and ordered Perez to change parts of her online review to remove the reference to the stolen jewelry.

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"... she can always have the building/code inspector go thru her home where they performed the work. He could list/photo any thing that was done wrong, crappy or illegal."

Illegal, yeah; wrong, maybe. Crappy happens all the time. If she wanted blue paint, but they used green paint and did it badly, that's not illegal or demonstrably wrong. If she doesn't have it in writing, she's stuck with it.

They could, of course, both be partly at fault. If the missing jewelry should suddenly reappear, the plaintiff might just call it even.

Flat Rock NC
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In the case of a website like Angies list or Yelp (or Urban spoon, or Four Square, etc), I think I would side with the defendants in relation to the slanderous remarks that can't be proven should be removed. If the guy did shoddy work, A) It needs to be explained how it was deemed "shoddy", and B) How the explanation came to be made...ie, a second, more reputable source, comes forward. She doesn't like the quality of the guys work, fine. I'm sure she hired him based on a review she read on the same web site she's now bitching about him on. But to go as far as making shit up just to make the guy look worse is wrong on every count.

Social media (and I'm using that term loosely for those types of websites) is a fantastic way for people to get a name for themselves. The opposite side of that is there is also the potential for company XYZ to defame company ABC for stupid and petty reasons that have no real merit other than the vendetta one person or group has for another.

Long Beach CA
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Right, Robert. That's what we're talking about.

If I write a review of your work saying "Robert's 3D Model was ugly and useless", that's one thing.

If I write another that says "Robert's 3D Model was ugly and useless, and put a virus on my computer that cleaned out my bank account and ruined my credit", that's another matter entirely.

Assuming, of course, you didn't put a virus on my computer that cleaned out my bank account and ruined my credit.

Chesapeake VA
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The theft and vandalism claims would be the only area that he has any grounds, quality of work, he holds no say over.

Hazle Township PA
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As far as her claim of shoddy workmanship she can always have the building/code inspector go thru her home where they performed the work. He could list/photo any thing that was done wrong, crappy or illegal. The contractor would have a hard time going up against the inspectors in court.

The other stuff she alledges, if she can't prove it, then she can't accuse of him of theft...

Pittsburgh PA
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I don't think you can sue for rhinoceros defamation.

Chesapeake VA
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This vignette demonstrates the courts ability and willingness to suppress free speech in favor of corporate image or public relations. I use Yelp. I comment on Yelp, and am discomfited by their decision.

It is also ture that many SLS members post slanderous comments about other members by direct reference, which has been the situation since we first joined. Our earliest experiences in contributing to several topics resulted in 'flaiming' expresssions, which are forbidden by the web host.

Treasure Is FL
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I'm guessing the court-ordered editing she put online includes the fact that police found no evidence of theft. Of course, if the missing items weren't in a locked safe or cabinet, there wouldn't be any evidence, most likely.

Shoddy work might be equivalent to vandalism, especially if you have paid for it. But maybe not legally.

Anyone reading a review in an open source should realize it's just one person's opinion or rant. Slander definitions often stress the importance of potentially damaging another's ability to earn a living.

Here on SLS, people write things that could damage others' chance to secure a swing date. Given the freedom to do such an evil thing, a lot of SLS forum users jump on the opportunity.

Flat Rock NC
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I believe I am to understand that you are on the side of the defendant here?

What if she posted that he did something more egregious, such as killed her dog or groped her teenage daughter? Are there no limits to slander on the web?

btw the focus of this is not her assessment of the quality of his work. It's her accusing him of vandalism and theft, for which she had already filed a police report and the police found no evidence.

Chesapeake VA
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The internet is a meeting place, it is where we go to find out about subjects. If a business cannot accept the advertisement of their worth... Do better.

Hazle Township PA
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TOPIC: Free Speech and Slander