Review Defamation Suit Settled

Just like that the “Yelp Defamation Lawsuit” (Yelp wasn’t a defendant) was settled according to Elinor Mills at CNET:

“This case was settled with the mutual satisfaction of both parties,” said Michael Blacksburg, who represented patient Christopher Norberg. The terms of the settlement agreement are confidential and the March trial date will be canceled, he said.

Shortly after the court-required mediation hearing was completed Friday afternoon, Norberg replaced an earlier Yelp posting in which he said he had been sued by chiropractor Steven Biegel with a short posting 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. We both encourage the Internet community to act responsibly.”

Cooler heads prevailed. The defendant realized that he was rash and failed to recognize the potential impact of his review on the plaintiff’s business and reputation and the plaintiff probably realized that the publicity surrounding the litigation was hurting him more than the defendant’s negative review.

Accordingly the controversy will have little if no impact on the “culture” of reviews that now prevails at Yelp or other sites. That’s both good and bad.

User reviews are helpful to consumers and clearly they value them. However, as the “segment” matures, reviewers need to have a sense that the businesses they’re writing about are seeing real consequences (positive and negative) from their reviews. SMBs need to recognize that this phenomenon is here to stay and find a way to engage with it ethically and use it as an opportunity to gain feedback and creatively cultivate word of mouth.

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If you want to listen to the NPR discussion on defamation, online reviews and Yelp, which I was a part of on Friday, you can hear the podcast here.

3 Responses to “Review Defamation Suit Settled”

  1. MiriamEllis Says:

    So, it’s settled, Greg. I really was wondering how that would turn out. I’m glad it seems that folks decided to be reasonable instead of continuing the fight. I think the main lesson here for all reviewers is to stick to the facts and report only the truth of what you experience, in a reasoned tone, not an angry one. Thanks for reporting on the conclusion of this case.

    Miriam

  2. Greg Sterling Says:

    Sure. Matt McGee offers his opinions on the case here: http://searchengineland.com/yelp-case-settled-bigger-issues-remain-16114

  3. Stream o’ consciousness… | Mike Orren Says:

    […] Review Defamation Suit Settled […]

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