Posts Tagged ‘Yelp’

Class action fraud suit filed against Yelp

March 3, 2010

This lawsuit is no surprise to me.  I’ve been hearing stories about Yelp’s shady practices for months so now they’ve been documented here in this class action complaint filed in LA Federal Court late last month (link to complaint here).

The fact pattern in question is that a small business receives a negative review and gets a call from a Yelp representative who offers to take down the negative ad if the merchant agrees to advertise with Yelp for six months.  If the merchant cancels the advertisement after the six months the negative ad reappears.

There are lots of problems with this approach to running a business if these allegations are true but undermining trust is paramount, the trust that the negative ad is in fact legitimate and not something encouraged or written by Yelp.  The trust that consumers receive an accurate representation of what people think of a business.

Impact on attorneys:  This lawsuit and the behavior it alleges suggests the dangers of not being active on the Internet.  You maybe a terrific lawyer but if one person writes something negative about you and you don’t have a website or any other social networking presence then this negative review could receive undue prominence.

Your hotel rant could get you sued

October 12, 2009

Publishing untrue statements on the Internet via your Twitter feed etc. even as “anonymous” could get you sued.  So it might feel good to vent about an unpleasant experience at a hotel but beware it not without risks.  And to make matters worse, its possible to get sued in a foreign country if the statement is downloaded in that country.

To put this in perspective, to write about the lumpy mattress is probably okay but have some proof before publishing a claim on Yelp that a hotel is infested with bedbugs.

Suit against Yelp reviewer still alive

March 27, 2009

I posted about this case when it was filed back in January.  Now Judge William Elving of the Santa Clara Superior Court has ruled that the case, Y. Wong v. T. Jing,  has a probability of success on its merits.  This doesn’t mean the plaintiff has won only that the case wasn’t dismissed early on in the litigation process.  The facts alleged are that the couple (The Jings) defamed her by complaining on Yelp about the treatment their son received when he was 4 years old. The post said that the boy was lightheaded from laughing gas and that he received a filling containing mercury.

I hope this case goes to trial and then up on appeal.  This could establish new defamation law.

Yelp accused of online extortion

March 10, 2009

Last month the East Bay Express reported that Yelp was actively approaching merchants promising them more prominent displays of positive reviews in exchange for payment.  Now, the Chicago Tribune is reporting that Chicago restaurants are claiming that a Yelp salesperson called on them to sponsor a Yelp event and in exchange, Yelp would move up good reviews to the top of listings.

East Bay Express Article

Chicago Tribune Article

Another Yelp suit

January 13, 2009

This time it Yelp is named as a party because they didn’t take down the offending ad in a situation where a pediatric dentist received a negative comment claiming a pediatric patient  was dizzy after having a cavity filled because she used laughing gas and the Yelp post also claimed her fillings contain mercury.

The case was filed on Dec. 11th 2008 in Santa Clara Superior Court and is titled Y. Wong vs. T. Jing, Et Al. case number 1-08-CV-129971.

It will be interesting to see if this one goes to court.  


Yelp chiro suit settled

January 10, 2009

No new free speech law will be established now in suit filed by the chiropractor against a client who used the site to complain about billing practices.  The parties settled to their “mutual satisfaction” and the terms are confidential.  However, after the mediation where the parties settled, the defendant Norberg posted the following:

“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. We both encourage the Internet community to act responsibly.”

Internet community??