I have a slanderous review on my businesses yelp page. Through my own investigation I found it was left by the GM of a restaurant that I gave a bad review on. She has never had my product (I know that for a fact), & her statements are totally false. I have since flagged the review, but am truly worried that this person is out to get me (she has looked up my info on linked-in as well), and am worried that the "small" harassment and slander will continue, if not grow into something bigger. Do I have any legal recourse to the slander? What can I do to prevent further communication, send her a letter?
Truth is a complete defense to libel (written) or slander (spoken). If her statements are factual, it is possible that they might be libelous if they are disparaging and untrue. However, to the extent that she is merely expressing her dislike or her opinion, that would not be libelous, e.g., for someone to say that another is an "a**hole" is not a matter of factual substance. It is merely an opinion. Internet disparagement is a difficult area to navigate. You may want to consult an attorney in confidence about your details or perhaps an online reputational management team. And remember, sometimes turnabout is fair play.
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There are companies whose mission and purpose is restore a person's reputation which has been hurt by online information - and that may be your best bet. I also have heard - and this certainly is not legal advice and is probably no better than rumor - but that Yelp has a particularly bad reputation for leaving slanderous reviews up. I believe there was a recent significant judgment out of one of the southern states recently against a person who had falsely reported on a person or company. I don't know if Yelp was involved, but this is a growing area of the law. General laws of slander - actually libel if it is put in print - would apply, but it can be a tough area in which to prove your case. I would recommend you try the non-legal avenues first, such a contacting Yelp directly, and possibly seeking help from one of the reputation restoring services. If the problem spreads or gets out of hand, search AVVO for a defamation attorney, who may give you a free consultation. Good luck!
This response is not intended to create an attorney/client relationship between any individuals, and is not intended as specific legal advice.
Before hiring an attorney you should consider contacting the GM and requesting that she remove the statements. Inform her that you are prepared to file a lawsuit. If she doesn't remove the photos then speak with a local attorney regarding filing a lawsuit.
- Good Luck
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