- Odd News
By John Clarke and Michael Zennie
PUBLISHED: 02:34 EST, 6 December 2012 | UPDATED: 06:18 EST, 7 December 2012
Suing: Christopher Dietz says his construction business has lost $300,000 over the negative review on Yelp
Better think twice before you slam a business with a bad review on Yelp - one Virginia woman is being sued for it.
Jane Perez was slapped with a $750,000 lawsuit by Dietz Development after she publicly logged complaints about construction work the building contractor performed on her home.
In her write-ups on the popular business review sites Yelp and Angie's List, Perez accused the company of damaging her house, trespassing and stealing jewelry.
'Bottom line,' she wrote on Angie's List. 'Do not put yourself through this nightmare of a contractor.'
Perez is only the latest online critic to find herself in court over negative comments post online.
2009, a San Francisco man was sued by a chiropractor after he posted a
Yelp review accusing the business of over-charging him. That suit was settled out of court.
A Chicago plastic surgeon sued three women in 2010 after they wrote online accusations that he gave them disfigured and misshapen breasts after surgery.
In September, a Pilates studio in
Virginia sued two Yelp reviewers who complained that the business
smelled like mildew and that the staff was unfriendly.
speech advocates say businesses are increasingly resorting to legal
action to retaliate against negative reviews of their businesses.
Christopher Dietz, the owner of Dietz Development, said he had no choice but to file the lawsuit after he lost $300,00 when customers fled his business over the review, reports The Washington Post.
'The impact has been awful,' Dietz said. 'There is no one to protect businesses when people slam their name.'
He said he is not suing because of the negative review per se - he's suing because the allegations Perez made are false.
Review: Perez posted a negative review on the popular site Yelp, as well as Angie's List, another business review site
Allegations: Perez claims her townhouse in Falls Church, Virginia, (pictured) was damaged by the work Dietz did
Jane Perez isn't the only Yelp reviewer to be sued after writing bad things about a business online. Free speech advocates say such cases are on the rise.
'If it's negative and true, that's fair. If it's negative and not true, that's unfair,' he told WJLA-TV in Washington, DC.
Perez, a retired captain in the military, said she never thought she could be sued over something as common as a Yelp review.
'I don’t want to see what happened to me happen to anyone else,' Perez said.
She stands by her reviews, The Post says, and maintains that what she posted was truthful.
A judge in Fairfax partially sided
with Dietz this week - allowing the lawsuit to proceed and ordering
Perez to remove the parts of her Angie's List review that alleged Dietz
Development employees stole jewelry.
Her lawyer says Perez's right to free speech and her right to express her opinion should trump Dietz's business interests.
'You should always have a right to free speech. She should be able to describe her experience with the contractor...she definitely told the truth,' her attorney said.
The stakes in the world of online reviews are increasingly high.
is primarily known for restaurant reviews, but it has branched out to
include listings and customer evaluations for businesses of all kinds.
It has become a review powerhouse, with 84million visitors a month and 33million reviews.
A 2011 Harvard University study suggested that for each star a restaurant received on from reviewers on the site, the restaurant owners could expect a 5 to 7percent jump in revenue.
This is the text of Perez's original review posted on Angie's List in August 2012.
Description Of Work: Dietz Development was to perform: painting, refinish floors, electrical, plumbing and handyman work. I was instead left with damage to my home and work that had to be reaccomplished for thousands more than originally estimated.
Member comments: My home was damaged' the "work" had to be re-accomplished; and Dietz tried to sue me for "monies due for his "work." I won in summary judgement (meaning that his case had no merit). Despite his claims, Dietz was/is not licensed to perform work in the state of VA. Further, he invoiced me for work not even performed and also sued me for work not even performed. Today (six months later) he just showed up at my door and '"wanted to talk to me." I said that I "didn't want to talk to him," closed the door , and called the police. (The police said his reason was that he had a "lien on my house"; however this "lien" was made null and void the day I won the case according to the court.) This is after filing my first ever police report when I found my jewelry missing and Dietz was the only one with a key. Bottom line do not put yourself through this nightmare of a contractor.