Appellate Court Allows Defamation Suit To Proceed Against Individual Who Posted Negative Business Review on Yelp

A California pediatric dentist, Yvonne Wong, sued Tai Jing alleging that Jing defamed her in a posting on Yelp in connection with her treatment of Jing’s minor son.  The lawsuit also named Jia Ma (Jing’s wife) and Yelp.

The three defendants quickly brought an Anti-SLAPP motion seeking dismissal of the action.  This motion shifted the burden onto Wong to immediately show facts to support her claims.  Yelp was dismissed by Wong without prejudice soon after the motion was filed.  Under the Communications Decency Act at 47 U.S.C. 230, “[n]o provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.”

In November 2010, Wong v. Jing (2010) 189 Cal. App. 4th 1354, a California Court of Appeal found that Wong did not show that Ma was involved in making the alleged statements and granted the motion as to Ma.  Yelp had sought its legal fees and the Court agreed that Yelp, even though dismissed before the motion was heard, had standing to do so.  As to Jing, however, the Court reiterated and analyzed the allegedly defamatory statements in the opinion and found that Wong had sufficiently shown facts of injurious falsehood, even if implied, at this stage of the lawsuit to allow the case to move forward.

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About Craig McLaughlin

I am an intellectual property attorney and trial lawyer with an office in Southern California. I enjoy representing clients and also enjoy flyfishing, skiing, golf, writing this blog and photography (see blog header). My website is: http://www.smartpropertylaw.com
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