Monthly Archives: July 2014

Online Defamation Case Study: Zookeeper v. Yelper

online defamation lawsuit: petting zoo owner v. Yelper
Will a petting zoo owner win his Internet libel lawsuit?

It’s the online defamation case of the animal farm owner verses the animal affairs activist!

Steven Vidmar, owner of Friendly Farms – a petting zoo and pony ride animal provider – sued Erika Gannon-Hughes for defamation. Yelp libel, to be precise. He says she knowingly lied about his animal farm in a concerted effort to ruin his business; she says she speaks the truth, and nothing but the truth.

Why Did The Animal Farm Sue The Reviewer For Online Defamation?

For thirty years, USDA licensed Friendly Farms has been providing four-legged friends to petting zoos, pony rides and other types of animal-related entertainment events.

Erika Gannon-Hughes, however, is not a Friendly Farms fan. On Yelp!, she let her feelings rip, offering:

“In all honesty, 1 star seems too generous of a rating. I know firsthand that these animals are severely abused.”

and

“The majority of them have lice, are ridden with parasites, are LONG overdue for a hoof trimming, and are ALL underfed,” continued the review, according to the lawsuit. “The owners of this company are nothing but cruel, heartless and shady. They are in it for the $$$ and nothing else. Please do not support this company!”

According to available reports, Yelp did remove Ganoon-Hughes’ comments, but Friendly Farms is still moving ahead with an online defamation lawsuit. And the quasi-zoo wants more than $50,000 in damages.

What Friendly Farms Will Have To Prove To Win This Yelp! Defamation Lawsuit

The main question: what will Steven Vidmar have to prove to win this Internet defamation lawsuit?

Answer:

  1. That the negative statements were about him or his business – which is easy to prove since the comments appear on the Friendly Farm’s Yelp! page;
  2. That the statements are false and caused material harm – bank records that show a decline in business since the review went live, or affidavits from clients or potential clients saying that they chose not to do business with Friendly Farms because of the post, should suffice.
  3. That the defendant purposefully or negligently published the information – Friendly Farms would have to present evidence that the defendant either knew what she was lying and published it anyway, or the animal farm must present a cogent argument that the defendant had every reason to know that what she wrote was untrue.

Are You Dealing With An Internet Defamation Situation?

Online defamation is becoming more common. If Internet libel has caused you hardship, and you’re interested in taking legal action, get in touch with Kelly / Warner Law. We are a top-rated firm, with AV-rated lawyers who focus on Internet defamation.

Jumbotron Defamation? Unlikely.

It’s been a few weeks since a funny defamation lawsuit landed in the ole’ inbox. But thanks to a baseball fan in New York, happy days law laughs are here again!

A Man Fell Asleep At A Baseball Game; Mocked By Anchors…

On April 14, Andrew Robert Recto headed to Yankee Stadium. The Bronx Bombers had a scheduled showdown with long-time rivals, the Red Soxs. During the game, Recto dozed off – and the audience cam caught him snoozing.

Did the game anchors give the slumbering fan a pass? Of course not! This is Yankee Stadium, people!

Upon spotting Recto on the jumbotron, ESPN game anchors Dan Shulman and John Kruk went from play-by-play game commentary, to audition tape for Real Housewives Anchorman of New York.

…So The Mocked Man Filed A Defamation Lawsuit

Since snark is the fuel on which the media now runs, Recto’s roasting went viral. When the sleeping Yankee fan heard the less-than-kind quips, he did what anybody looking to strike the legal lottery would do — he sued.

Recto claimed defamation. He insisted the incident caused him “mental anguish”, not to mention “loss of future income” and “earning capacity”. ESPN New York, Major League Baseball Advanced Media and the Yankees were all named defendants.

Does The Jumbotron Man Have A Legitimate Defamation Case?

In a statement, a spokesperson for ESPN said the defamation claim was “wholly without merit.”

And ESPN is almost certainly correct.

It’s never wise to predict the outcome of a case with 100% certainty, but if this one makes it to trial, a whole lot of legal watchers’ jaws will drop. Here’s why:

  1. A statement isn’t defamatory if it’s just an opinion. Legally speaking, defamation is a negligent false statement of fact, not an unflattering opinion.
  2. In order to emerge victorious in a defamation lawsuit, the plaintiff must prove that he or she suffered a material loss as a result of the statement(s) under review.
  3. The plaintiff must prove that the defendant acted, at the very least, negligently.

The argument could be made that Shulman and Kruk were negligent in their assumptions about Recto, but it’s unlikely that Recto suffered any real harm as a result of the incident? Moreover, while arguably immature, the ESPN spokes boys didn’t make any false statements of fact about Recto.

Is a defamation situation cramping your style? Get in touch with Kelly / Warner Law, today. We are a top-rated, well-respected law firm that focuses on all things defamation – for both individuals and businesses. Reach out today to begin the conversation. The quicker you handle the matter, the better life will be.

 

I Can’t Afford A Lawsuit. (Not So Fast! Maybe You Can.)

Can't afford a lawyer? Maybe you can.
Can’t afford a lawyer? Maybe you can.

I can’t afford a lawyer!

Maybe you can – with a little help from your “Internet friends.”

Take Roy Ngerng Yi Ling, for example. A Singaporean blogger, Ling landed on Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s naughty-list for accusing the big wig of “criminal misappropriation of public fundsand is now facing a defamation lawsuit.

So, where does a cash-strapped blogger turn when staring down the barrel of a very high profile online defamation lawsuit? Why, to the Internet, of course! Specifically, to the nearest crowdfunding platform.

And it worked! Over 100 people contributed tens of thousands of dollars to Ling’s legal campaignbecause who can resist lending a few bucks to a keyboard critic being bullied by the most powerful politician in his country!?