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Websites---and Libel Lawsuits ?

Discussion in 'Black Hat SEO' started by spider7, Feb 27, 2015.

  1. spider7

    spider7 Regular Member

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    Hi Friends,

    Need some input on a Sensitive subject.

    I am working on site where visitors get to rate the services of dentist/drs in my area. Registered users are free to post reviews---GOOD OR BAD.

    Ex. Sally get a root canal Job from Dr.Jones. He's unprofessional and does a bad job on her case---but doesn't break the law. Jones did the work, but Sally is not pleased and has to go to another Dentist to have it redone. SALLY POST A NEGATIVE RATING on my website about Jones.

    QUESTION(s):

    1. Can the owner of the website (me) be sued for "libel" over any negative comments posted by users of the website?
    2. I know that anyone can be sued today for spitting on the sidewalk, but would Dr.Jones win a suit like this?
    3. What defense could the website owner present to the court?
    4. Would the website owner be able to counter sue for filing a frivolous lawsuit against Dr.Jones?

    Yah...i know, its BS. BUT, its the world we live in. Everyone suing Everyone.
    F##kn Lawyers.



    .
     
  2. sully1975

    sully1975 Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    I would assume some great answers are available in the terms of service of YELP and other review sites. Some super disclaimer saying such, acting as a form of armor to a suit but no bulletproof blast suit. Of course anyone can be served papers. What sticks is another question. But of course I am no lawyer.
     
  3. kbklash

    kbklash Senior Member

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    Yes,you can get sued for that.Infact the webmaster is responsible for whatever happening in his/her site.But suing and winning the lawsuit are two different things.You need to keep the evidences ready.You must keep the valid details of your visitors.Since you are dealing with professional people's business,you must keep everything intact.
    for a read : http://www.grubstreet.com/2014/02/bad-yelp-reviews-lawsuits.html
     
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  4. sully1975

    sully1975 Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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  5. spider7

    spider7 Regular Member

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    I just remembered something....if you are "Incorporated"...your exposure is limited to the assets of the "Corporation"...not personal Liability.

    IOW, they can't come after your personal assets (your personal cash in the bank, etc.). Your company could run on a few bucks in the bank...and then declare BK if an issue arrises. (of course that takes $ too, but its better than personal liability).

    *unless you have set up the company to do illegal operations---then of course you are personally liable.

    ALSO,...there are SO MANY rating sites now (mechanics, lawyers, dr's, restaurants, etc). WTF are they doing? I'm sure the BEST RESTAURANTS get negative reviews from disgruntled customers---having a bad day.

    Keep it coming...Thanks Men!
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2015
  6. spider7

    spider7 Regular Member

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    Here's one state that is standing up for Free Speech.
    http://www.cnn.com/2014/09/12/tech/web/california-law-yelp/
     
  7. spider7

    spider7 Regular Member

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  8. cottonwolf

    cottonwolf Regular Member

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    If you have a very good disclaimer on your site tailored to your site's operational circumstances, you should exclude any liability to third parties (that is parties negatively reviewed). What about those sites which are full of comments and reviews, such as "This and that website is crap, non-existent customer service rant rant rant". What about them? Do they hide because of fear of being sued? Study their disclaimers if any are present. Any professional should be reasonable enough to email/mail you and ask for removal of very bad reviews. I know, people are assholes and sue like there's no tomorrow.

    A good example is https://www.trustpilot.com/review/www.freelancer.com
     
  9. itsjinx

    itsjinx Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    I have personal experience in this area on both sides of the issue. The unfortunate reality is that even if you are legally protected, and even if you have the world's best disclaimers, and even if you literally do everything by the book: you will be sued - PERIOD. As others have said, being sued and being sued and losing a lawsuit are completely different situations but unfortunately it is very easy for some angry dentist to have enough pride to sue you(regardless of whether the dentist has any legal basis to sue). The problem with this is that it costs alot of money to defend any lawsuit, no matter how frivolous the suit. I have been sued as a website owner for something similar and believe me when I tell you that it does not matter whose side the law is on - it matters who can OUTSPEND the other litigant in a lawsuit, simple as that. In some countries outside the USA there is a penalty that a litigant who files a lawsuit and loses has to pay the other parties legal expenses.... If that were the case in the US(or wherever you are based) then it would be a completely different story but the sad reality is that civil attorneys know that they can usually get whatever they want by suing a company/individual as long as their client can outspend the defendant. What I mean about outspending is that they will drag the lawsuit out as much as possible using various methods(rescheduling hearings, filing certain motions, etc) because the more time that they spend on the legal action against you means more time you will have to pay your attorney's to defend you. So please do not listen to anyone quoting the various laws that are supposed to protect you as a website owner as they only protect you near the END of the lawsuit after you have spent thousands of dollars just getting to that point!
     
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  10. spider7

    spider7 Regular Member

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    I hear you its,

    You are right..."you get as much justice as you can afford!"