Buzzfeed recounts the story of a New York dentist that has sued at least three negative reviewers for speaking their mind about the services provided by this business. The increase in such activity has led Yelp to alert reviewers to businesses who make, in Yelp’s words, “questionable legal threats” against reviewers speaking their mind. The story also states that Congress is currently considering bills designed to protect consumers from such lawsuits based upon negative reviews posted online.
The basis of many of these lawsuits seem to be based on a theory of defamation. The legal elements of defamation in New York are:
- a false statement iterated against the plaintiff;
- the false statement was published to a third party without privilege or authorization;
- the false statement amountsto at least negligence; and
- the false statement caused special harm or is defamation per se.
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