Can I be sued for writing a fake review on Yelp.com?

Asked over 3 years ago - Chula Vista, CA

I made up an account on Yelp.com and wrote a review about someone who is an independent contractor at a salon I work for. The contents of it were absolutely true however, I also work there and just happened to witness it but am not the client. I went on there portraying a client and writing what I thought about the person. She saw it and hired a lawyer to investigate who wrote it and is threatening to sue. How much amo does she have and what would be involved in the investigation?

Attorney answers (4)

  1. Lowell Hale Steiger

    Pro

    Contributor Level 12

    1

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    Answered . In order to be sued for defamation, the independent contractor about whom you were writing would have to prove ALL of the following:

    The elements for a cause of action for defamation are:
    (1) A false and defamatory statement concerning the plaintiff

    (2) An unprivileged communication to a third party

    (3) Fault by the defendant amounting at least to negligence

    (4) Special harm, damage to reputation, or the actionability of the statement irrespective of any special harm.

    If what you wrote is true, the analysis would stop at #1 above. However, if the independent contractor makes a claim against you, then you will need a lawyer to defend your rights.

    Defamation cases are very, very tricky and, because emotions run high.

    But, remember, truth is an absolute defense in a defamation case.

  2. Christian K. Lassen II

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

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    Lawyers agree

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    Answered . Libel is publishing in print, which includes pictures, an untruth about another which will do harm to that person or his or her reputation, by tending to bring the target into ridicule, hatred, scorn or contempt of others. Contact a local defamation lawyer for a free consultation to protect your rights.

  3. Robert Daniel Kelly

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . See my legal guide "Defamation on the Internet."

    Best wishes.

  4. Lars A. Lundeen

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . It strikes me that it would cost this person quite a few hundred dollars to retain an attorney to undertake the type of investigation you are talking about. Subpoenas would need to be issued to the site to attempt to determine the source of the comment. If the posting is merely an opinion and not a recitation of false facts, there would, in all likelihood, be no cause of action against you for defamation. In the future, to avoid the kind of anxiety I am sure you are now experiencing, perhaps you should make your comments in person to the supervisor of this person, rather than falsifying an identity.

    Legal Disclaimer:

    If this information has been helpful, please indicate below.

    Mr. Lundeen is licensed to practice law in Florida and Vermont. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Lundeen strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in your state in order to ensure proper advice is received.

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