I have had multiple blatantly false, as in no accurate statements at all, reviews placed for my business. I know who the individual is and they have never stepped on the premises of my business. This individual also recently sued me in small claims court over a personal manner and lost. I would like to first send a warning and then file against this individual. Are their actions criminal? What damages could I seek, as our business with new clients has dropped measurably from our reduced web presence and the reviews? How much would it cost me to bring this to some sort of satisfying ending ie. the reviews are removed and potentially, the individual is made to pay in some way?
The questions you have posted require complex answers and an attorney will likely need more information before advising you. Most attorneys that represent plaintiffs will conduct a consultation for you claim free of charge, wherein a price structure can be discussed. Many attorneys take plaintiff's cases on a contingent fee basis, meaning you will pay no attorney fees out of pocket and the payment will be taken out of your recovered amount.
Because you are familiar with small claims court, if you are seeking damages of $5000 or less, you can pursue you claim there. Some damages that are covered in small claims court are actual losses that you can quantify, but general damages are also recoverable (things like pain and suffering, etc). Small claims may be attractive because attorneys are generally prohibited from appearing on behalf of parties in small claims court, and you would avoid these costs.
The bottom line is this: you should find an attorney who is willing to consult with you regarding your claims in this matter, but you may also find filing in small claims court is the way to go.
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