Yelp lawyering up for an interesting fight
Do you remember that time you asked for no onions at that diner in Des Moines and your burger was piled to the ceiling with them anyway? And then afterwards, when you made a point to leave them a nasty Yelp review, warning other patrons passing through the area to hit Arby’s instead? Well, that diner remembers. And it might seek legal recompense, short of your head on a pike.
A Yelp user who left a strongly worded and unmistakably negative review of an agent belonging to a real estate firm in Texas could be in danger of being unmasked.
More than a year after the review was posted, the firm filed suit. Apparently, it had done some real damage. The firm’s lawyer called the review defamatory and inaccurate, demanding its removal from Yelp, along with the disclosure of the true identity of the accuser.
Now, part of Yelp’s appeal is that it bears people’s genuine opinions regarding firsthand experiences with businesses and services. If this user, “Lin,” is speaking the truth, the people of the internet have a right to know.
Yelp dug in their heels, wouldn’t remove review
Yelp maintained that the review didn’t break any of their rules or standards, so they wouldn’t remove it from the site. In addition, they chose to defend Lin’s anonymity unless a valid subpoena was presented.
Well, the firm heard that and cooked up a subpoena, but they made a substantial error: Why would a Texas court case concerning documents located in California call for a subpoena served in Delaware? Someone needs to buy these guys a map.
And then, Yelp objected
Yelp objected the subpoena on the aforementioned grounds, also stating that the firm hasn’t exactly presented “proof of compelling interest,” which is constitutionally necessary to crack the stone wall of anonymity. Additionally, the lawsuit was filed a full 17 months after the comment was made, which noticeably overreaches the 12-month limitations for issues like these in Texas courts. If we’re getting the firm gifts, maybe they might like a calendar, too.
Issues like this probably make internet trolls shake in their boots. Or sandals. Or whatever trolls wear on their feet. Don’t worry, though, keyboard warriors. It looks like Yelp is fighting the good fight, at least from where you’re sitting.