Yelp, a user-generated content site, can help viewers find anything from the best hair dresser to which taco trucks you should stay away from in most major American cities. But adding reviews to the site can apparently land you in court.
Yvonne Wong, a dentist in Santa Clara, California is suing former patients over a negative review. The review complained about the treatment of a boy with cavities, and now the dentist is accusing the boys’ parents of libel.
SF Chronicle: Wong said she had no choice but to also sue Yelp because the company refused to take the review down. In the posting, the author, “T.J.,” complained that the boy was “light headed” after a filling because Wong gave him laughing gas, and that she used fillings containing mercury.
Wong’s attorney, John Terbeek of San Leandro, said the boy’s parents should have known about the mercury because they signed a consent form disclosing it. Terbeek said he probably will dismiss the charges against Yelp because he wasn’t aware when he filed the suit that Web sites publishing third-party content are protected under U.S. law…
Despite Wong’s case, Yelp continues to stand by reviewers’ rights to post negative reviews about businesses. Yelp does not allow businesses to publicly respond to reviews, although business owners can contact reviewers privately.
The South Bay dentist isn’t the first to take legal action over a Yelp review. Just last week, a San Francisco chiropractor settled a libel case against a former patient after the patient complained on Yelp about the doctor’s billing practices. However, details of the settlement have been kept confidential.
Norberg replaced his post on Biegel’s Yelp page with an apology that reads, “A misunderstanding between both parties led us to act out of hand. I chose to ignore Dr. Biegel’s initial request to discuss my posting. In hindsight, I should have remained open to his concerns. Both Dr. Biegel and I strongly believe in a person’s right to express their opinions in a public forum.
Maybe Yelp would be a good place to look for an attorney as well.
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