A recent lawsuit filed by a homeowner in Virginia against a contractor who did work on her home could have implications for eBay and Amazon sellers, as well as all other business. Christopher Dietz, of Dietz Development LLC, completed work on the home of Jane Perez. Following the job, Perez took to the popular online review site Yelp and voiced her displeasure with Dietz’s work, citing missing jewelry, charges that she should not have responsible for, and damage to her home. Dietz, fearing the review would hurt his business, filed a defamation lawsuit against Perez for $750,000. This past Thursday, the judge in the case ordered Perez to edit her review and as of today it is no longer visible on the Yelp review site. This ruling and this case are unprecedented, according to NPR, and could affect sellers and businesses everywhere.
Free Speech or Defamation?
This case brings up some interesting questions. Can buyers and consumers voice their opinions any way they like and can they do it in a manner that could be considered rude or vitriolic? If so, is it their right as consumers to make their voices heard under free speech? Or do consumers have to be held to a certain responsibility to paint the business in the best light? Should online reviewers be responsible for what they write about a seller or business online?