The case of a contractor who sued a former client for $750,000 over lost business that he alleges was caused by two negative online reviews went back to court the morning of Monday, Jan. 27. The case's original verdict was reversed by the Virginia Supreme Court in 2012.
In the lawsuit, plaintiff Christopher Dietz says that Fairfax County, Va., resident Jane Perez damaged his reputation and business when she wrote two online reviews in 2012 on Yelp and Angie's List accusing Dietz of theft and shoddy work, charges that he says are untrue and amount to defamation.
To set the Dietz case in the context of recent rulings regarding online reviews and reputation management, last week the Los Angeles Superior Court sided with famed singer Courtney Love in defense of an allegedly libelous tweet she made regarding stolen money and personal property. But the week before that, the Virginia Court of Appeals forced Yelp to reveal the identity of seven anonymous reviewers who allegedly falsified negative reviews against a carpet cleaning company.
The Dietz story has attracted comments from some contractors who say that the court ought to side with Dietz on account of a perceived bias in favor of clients by review websites. "Maybe we are about to witness some objectivity?" writes one.
If the jury sides with Dietz, his former client could pay a portion or all of the $750,000 and be forced to remove the online reviews. The counsel for Dietz told REMODELING that the jury is expected to reach a verdict before the weekend.