• FreeAdvice has a new Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, effective May 25, 2018.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our Terms of Service and use of cookies.

Received a letter for "publishing inaccurate and defaming statements"

Accident - Bankruptcy - Criminal Law / DUI - Business - Consumer - Employment - Family - Immigration - Real Estate - Tax - Traffic - Wills   Please click a topic or scroll down for more.

#1
Long story short...I published reviews online and they all pertained to the quality of work on our home build. I received a letter today form the contractor's lawyer stating I published inaccurate and defaming statements and that I should retract them. Are reviews really defaming? How can anyone post a review if that's the case? I'd be willing to share in PM if anyone would like to review it.
 


Zigner

Senior Member, Non-Attorney
#2
Long story short...I published reviews online and they all pertained to the quality of work on our home build. I received a letter today form the contractor's lawyer stating I published inaccurate and defaming statements and that I should retract them. Are reviews really defaming? How can anyone post a review if that's the case? I'd be willing to share in PM if anyone would like to review it.
What is your US state?

Depending on the content of the review, it may, in fact, be considered defaming. Reviewing the letter is not something for this forum. You likely ought to consider removing the reviews.
 

Zigner

Senior Member, Non-Attorney
#4
There really is no need. Your review may or may not be inaccurate. It may or may not be defaming. The thing you really have to consider is if you can afford a fight.
 

Shadowbunny

Queen of the Not-Rights
#5
Google "defamation suits yelp" and you'll find several cases of businesses suing over reviews. And they SHOULD be able to, as not all reviewers are honest nor accurate. In fact, unless your review was strictly fact-based, you may have inadvertently wandered into Libelous-Land.
 

quincy

Senior Member
#6
Long story short...I published reviews online and they all pertained to the quality of work on our home build. I received a letter today form the contractor's lawyer stating I published inaccurate and defaming statements and that I should retract them. Are reviews really defaming? How can anyone post a review if that's the case? I'd be willing to share in PM if anyone would like to review it.
Review writing is an art. To write a negative review that is safe from a losing lawsuit, the writer needs to be able to distinguish between fact, pure opinion (which does not state or imply fact), and falsehood.

Negative reviews are lawsuit magnets. For one reason, no one likes to be criticized. For another reason, negative reviews can cost the one reviewed money. And another reason is that negative reviews are often false, which can affect reputations.

Reviews can be defamatory if they state or imply false facts and these false facts cause demonstrable harm to the subject's reputation.

A failure of many review-writers is that they often generalize based on a single personal experience (e.g., this company ALWAYS ... or, this company NEVER ...). They often exaggerate their complaint (e.g., this company is so bad, millions of people can DIE!!). And they often tell lies ... because the bare facts are just plain boring.

It is impossible to tell without reading what you wrote whether you crossed the line from fact to defamatory fiction. Apparently the contractor whose work you reviewed believes lines were crossed, and his attorney did not discourage that belief.

You have options. You can leave the review in place and risk a lawsuit - and, if what you wrote was defamatory, the lawsuit could cost you many many thousands of dollars. The harm from defamatory text increases the longer it remains online for readers to read.

You can remove the review, which will not prevent a lawsuit but can mitigate the damages that could be awarded in a lawsuit.

You can remove the review and in its place write a retraction, which will not prevent a lawsuit but can mitigate even more the damages that can be awarded in a lawsuit.

You can consult with a lawyer in your area to discuss these options, after the attorney has had the opportunity to personally review your review.

Good luck.
 
Last edited:
#7
Review writing is an art. To write a negative review that is safe from a losing lawsuit, the writer needs to be able to distinguish between fact, pure opinion (which does not state or imply fact), and falsehood.

Negative reviews are lawsuit magnets. For one reason, no one likes to be criticized. For another reason, negative reviews can cost the one reviewed money. And another reason is that negative reviews are often false, which can affect reputations.

Reviews can be defamatory if they state or imply false facts and these false facts cause demonstrable harm to the subject's reputation.

A failure of many review-writers is that they often generalize based on a single personal experience (e.g., this company ALWAYS ... or, this company NEVER ...). They often exaggerate their complaint (e.g., this company is so bad, millions of people can DIE!!). And they often tell lies ... because the bare facts are just plain boring.

It is impossible to tell without reading what you wrote whether you crossed the line from fact to defamatory fiction. Apparently the contractor whose work you reviewed believes lines were crossed, and his attorney did not discourage that belief.

You have options. You can leave the review in place and risk a lawsuit - and, if what you wrote was defamatory, the lawsuit could cost you many many thousands of dollars. The harm from defamatory text increases the longer it remains online for readers to read.

You can remove the review, which will not prevent a lawsuit but can mitigate the damages that could be awarded in a lawsuit.

You can remove the review and in its place write a retraction, which will not prevent a lawsuit but can mitigate even more the damages that can be awarded in a lawsuit.

You can consult with a lawyer in your area to discuss these options, after the attorney has had the opportunity to personally review your review.

Good luck.
What is the difference between retracting and simply removing them? I've decided to remove until I consult an attorney, but to be honest... they were mostly pictures of the work done. No idea how that is defamatory.
 

Shadowbunny

Queen of the Not-Rights
#8
What is the difference between retracting and simply removing them? I've decided to remove until I consult an attorney, but to be honest... they were mostly pictures of the work done. No idea how that is defamatory.
It's probably not the pictures, but the "mostly" (as in, you had words to go along with the pictures) that could be the problem.
 

quincy

Senior Member
#9
What is the difference between retracting and simply removing them? I've decided to remove until I consult an attorney, but to be honest... they were mostly pictures of the work done. No idea how that is defamatory.
Removing the reviews simply takes them off the Internet sites where they currently appear. A retraction corrects what was previously incorrect and apologizes for the incorrectness, with NO qualifiers added. The retraction should appear as prominently as the previous postings did and in the same locations, so those who read the negative reviews have a good chance of seeing the retraction.

There ARE problems with retractions, and you should not publish retractions before discussing the wisdom of such a publication with the attorney you see. A retraction essentially admits you erred in what you said.

Pictures do not always tell a complete story. They can create a false impression (e.g., a photo taken at lunchtime implying workers were lazy).

But I agree with Shadowbunny that it is often the text that accompanies a photo that will be defamatory.
 
Last edited:
#10
Removing the reviews simply takes them off the Internet sites where they currently appear. A retraction corrects what was previously incorrect and apologizes for the incorrectness, with NO qualifications added. The retraction should appear as prominently as the previous postings did and in the same locations, so those who read the negative reviews have a good chance of seeing the retraction.

There ARE problems with retractions, and you should not publish retractions before discussing the wisdom of such a publication with the attorney you see. A retraction essentially admits you erred in what you said.

Pictures do not always tell a complete story. They can create a false impression (e.g., a photo taken at lunchtime implying workers were lazy).

But I agree with Shadowbunny that it is often the text that accompanies a photo that will be defamatory.
I appreciate the advice.. we removed them for the time being but also felt like any retraction was admitting we are incorrect (which is what I think they want) so elected to not do that.
 

quincy

Senior Member
#11
I appreciate the advice.. we removed them for the time being but also felt like any retraction was admitting we are incorrect (which is what I think they want) so elected to not do that.
I think you were smart to remove the reviews and I think you were probably smart to refrain from posting a retraction, certainly before discussing the pros and cons of a retraction with an attorney in your area first.

There can be positive reasons for posting negative reviews. They can provide an important consumer service. That said, it is very difficult to write good negative reviews and to post them without attracting the attention of the subject of the review - or, worse, the subject's attorney.

I hope you are now in a place where you can enjoy your home build.

Good luck.
 
Sponsored Ad

Top