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Dealing With Slander in Business

#1
What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? MD
I need some advice regarding libel/slander and being accused of fraud. I sell Maine Coon kittens. I have a litter I was taking deposits on and they will be ready next weekend. A little over a month ago a lady contacted me via oodle's website and was very interested. We exchanged emails and she said she wanted to put down a deposit on 2nd pick kitten. I received her check Dec 20, cashed it and told her Jan 27 she could come pick out her kitten. I hadn't heard from her by jan 27 so I emailed her again. No response. Over the next several days I sent an email each day asking if she was ok, if she still wanted her kitten, what was going on? No response to any of my emails. She had my phone number as well because I gave it to her when she reserved her kitten. She didn't call. Today I receive a response from her telling me I'm a fraud and she wants her deposit back, that she's "checked me out" and my cattery name doesn't exist and proceeds to slander my name and business on my business facebook page. I deleted the comment immediately and blocked her. I very calmly emailed her back and told her per my contract I do not offer refunds, only transfers to another kitten. She tells me she wants a refund again. I believe she has buyers remorse or cannot afford the remaining price of the kitten. I asked her why this personal attack, what was going on here and proceeded to show her the emails which I had sent her which she never responded to. She refused to acknowledge anything, just kept stating I was committing fraud and she wanted a refund. I take this very seriously. I never committed fraud. She then asked for my cfa and TICA cat registry proof, a copy of my contract again in which she allegedy acknowledged receiving(she never responded to the contract either), my cats pedigrees, all of which I emailed her. I then told her that I was no longer comfortable placing my kitten with her and agreed to a refund but I want to do it on the basis that she agrees not to slander my name or business. How do I go about doing this? She said "we will continue to monitor the situation" regarding the refund and gave me her address. I have never had anything like this and she also tried to bait me to call the authorities so she could tell them her side of the story. I have seriously done nothing wrong here and I feel as though she could ruin my business by word of mouth. What can I say or do? I feel very wide open here to whatever she can do because she seems crazy.
 

quincy

Senior Member
#2
What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? MD
I need some advice regarding libel/slander and being accused of fraud. I sell Maine Coon kittens. I have a litter I was taking deposits on and they will be ready next weekend. A little over a month ago a lady contacted me via oodle's website and was very interested. We exchanged emails and she said she wanted to put down a deposit on 2nd pick kitten. I received her check Dec 20, cashed it and told her Jan 27 she could come pick out her kitten. I hadn't heard from her by jan 27 so I emailed her again. No response. Over the next several days I sent an email each day asking if she was ok, if she still wanted her kitten, what was going on? No response to any of my emails. She had my phone number as well because I gave it to her when she reserved her kitten. She didn't call. Today I receive a response from her telling me I'm a fraud and she wants her deposit back, that she's "checked me out" and my cattery name doesn't exist and proceeds to slander my name and business on my business facebook page. I deleted the comment immediately and blocked her. I very calmly emailed her back and told her per my contract I do not offer refunds, only transfers to another kitten. She tells me she wants a refund again. I believe she has buyers remorse or cannot afford the remaining price of the kitten. I asked her why this personal attack, what was going on here and proceeded to show her the emails which I had sent her which she never responded to. She refused to acknowledge anything, just kept stating I was committing fraud and she wanted a refund. I take this very seriously. I never committed fraud. She then asked for my cfa and TICA cat registry proof, a copy of my contract again in which she allegedy acknowledged receiving(she never responded to the contract either), my cats pedigrees, all of which I emailed her. I then told her that I was no longer comfortable placing my kitten with her and agreed to a refund but I want to do it on the basis that she agrees not to slander my name or business. How do I go about doing this? She said "we will continue to monitor the situation" regarding the refund and gave me her address. I have never had anything like this and she also tried to bait me to call the authorities so she could tell them her side of the story. I have seriously done nothing wrong here and I feel as though she could ruin my business by word of mouth. What can I say or do? I feel very wide open here to whatever she can do because she seems crazy.
You appear to have responded professionally to the woman. I think you are smart to refund her deposit.

Agreements not to post negative reviews have had mixed results when challenged in court. Trying to prevent speech is not easy. I am not sure one is necessary here. If she posts another negative review about you or your business after she has had her money refunded, you can consider legal options at that time.

Good luck.
 
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Just Blue

Senior Member
#3
You appear to have responded professionally to the woman. I think you are smart to refund her deposit.

Agreements not to post negative reviews have had mixed results in court. Trying to prevent speech is not easy. I am not sure one is necessary here. If she posts another negative review about you or your business after she has had her money refunded, you can consider legal options at that time.

Good luck.
OP's posting history is interesting. ;)
 

quincy

Senior Member
#5
mommyx6kids, following is a link to an overview of defamation law in Maryland.

There is a one year statute of limitations for defamation claims in your state which means you have one year from the time a defamatory statement was made to file suit. You should keep this time limit in mind if the woman behaves badly even after receiving her refund.

https://www.peoples-law.org/defamation-law-maryland
 
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HRZ

Senior Member
#10
IF your side of the equation is proper as to sales of cat and the history of this customer as you post it ...I'd be nervous about a refund of deposit in return for a loosely worded promise to not post nasty things about me ...about zero practical leverage to go after her for breech if she launches a foul posting next week...now I'm not a fan of a $500 to craft a docuement re a $250 deposit or whatever it is ...but I might give some thought / search for a bit of strength to the refund agreement just in case.
 

quincy

Senior Member
#11
IF your side of the equation is proper as to sales of cat and the history of this customer as you post it ...I'd be nervous about a refund of deposit in return for a loosely worded promise to not post nasty things about me ...about zero practical leverage to go after her for breech if she launches a foul posting next week...now I'm not a fan of a $500 to craft a docuement re a $250 deposit or whatever it is ...but I might give some thought / search for a bit of strength to the refund agreement just in case.
Maryland, as a note, prohibits consumer non-disparagement clauses in agreements. It has always been difficult to restrain another's speech but in Maryland it can violate the law.

A link to the law: https://law.justia.com/codes/maryland/2016/commercial-law/title-14/subtitle-13/section-14-1325

There are remedies available if the would-be kitten purchaser decides to write a negative review.
 
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