One listener wants to know if a business can sue someone who posts a bad review. I’m Amy E. Feldman.
This week, the Colorado Court is hearing a case involving a negative online review posted by a woman who said a company was trying to take advantage of a single mother by giving her a very expensive estimate. That case is relevant to the question by listener Michael M., who wants to know the legal pitfalls of a bad review.
Michael, a business can sue a reviewer over a defamatory post, that’s a false statement of fact that harms their reputation. But opinions aren’t statements of fact, and reviewers who give honest opinions are protected in 31 states from what are called SLAPP suits—Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation, that’s when a business threatens to file a meritless suit just to shut someone up.
Best practice: keep fact statements accurate, be clear when it’s your opinion, and don’t threaten legal action you can’t take.