Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A Bad Yelp Review Can Be Murder . . . Defamation Too!

Bently Reserve L.P v. Papaliolios, A136191 (D1d1 July 30, 2013) 

On an anti-SLAPP motion involving a defamation claim over a Yelp review, where the first prong is admitted, the court finds that the plaintiff met its burden to have show a likelihood of success by coming forward with prima facie evidence of the falsity of plaintiff’s statements.
Defendant posted a Yelp review of his former apartment building that made various negative comments about his former landlord, including, among other things, an accusation that the landlord’s actions in maintaining the building contributed to the deaths of three tenants. The landlord sued for libel and the defendant filed an anti-SLAPP motion. The parties all agreed that the “arising from protected activity” prong was satisfied, but disputed whether the plaintiff had made a showing of likelihood of success to satisfy the second prong. The trial court, finding that the plaintiff had come forward with sufficient evidence to show that the defendant’s statements were false, denied the motion. The court of appeal, after extensively reviewing the substantive law on defamation in the internet context, agreed that the plaintiff had come forward with sufficient evidence.


 Affirmed.

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