TripAdvisor Prevails In Defamation Lawsuit

TripAdvisor wins another online defamation lawsuit.
TripAdvisor wins another online defamation lawsuit.

Well folks, it looks like the TripAdvisor defamation saga of the Grand Resort Hotel in Pigeon Forge, TN has come to an end. After being branded the “Dirtiest Hotel in America” on TripAdvisor’s 2011 “awards list,” Kenneth Seaton – proprietor of the Grand Resort Hotel – waged legal war against the online review website. And this past week, his battle came to a close.

Why Did The Innkeeper Sue TripAdvisor For Defamation?

Understandably upset about the high-profile slight against his guest house, Kenneth Seaton filed an online libel lawsuit against TripAdvisor.com. The innkeeper also alleged false light invasion of privacy, trade libel and tortious interference with prospective business relationships.

TripAdvisor’s write-up never mentioned Seaton by name, though. As such, the judge quickly tossed the false light invasion of privacy claim. After all, a person can’t be seen “in a false light” if said offending material doesn’t identify the individual. The judge did, however, allow Seaton to pursue the other claims.

Notably, Seaton’s side opted to focus on the hyperbolic nature of the word “dirtiest”. If they hadn’t, the statement could easily be viewed as an opinion and, therefore, not defamatory. For one person’s clean, is another person’s pig sty.

Did The Innkeeper Win His Defamation Lawsuit Against TripAdvisor?

Ultimately, Seaton lost. To make matters more heartbreaking for the Grand Resort Hotel operator, the bank foreclosed on his hotel, forcing him to shut down his hospitality business.

Perhaps poetically, Trip Advisor ceased compiling and publishing their “best and worst of” list after 2011. As such, Kenneth Seaton will go down in history as the last victim of TripAdvisor.com’s potentially business-crushing “awards” program.

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