Christopher Norberg had a car accident in 2006. So he went to see chiropractor Dr. Steven Biegel. After being treated, Norberg felt that his bill was unfair so he posted a negative review of the Doc on Yelp.com. Yelp.com is a review website that includes everything from local restaurants to individual professions.
Dr. Biegel claimed that Norberg’s review was libel and caused his business “loss of reputation, shame, mortification, and hurt feelings” and “injury to his business and profession.” The filing was made in the Superior Court of California, County of San Francisco. Biegel also believes that Yelp invaded his right to privacy.
As soon as I read this article on PC World, I thought about whether The First Amendment would protect Norberg in this case. The First Amendment states:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
In the case of Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc. 418 U.S. 323 (1974), The Supreme Court ruled that opinions could not be considered defamatory. In the case of Yelp, it is clearly an opinionated website. Personally I believe that the Doc doesn’t have much of a case here. Just imagine all the negative comments everyone gets on every single YouTube video. Sometimes you just have to suck it up and have thicker skin when it comes to what people say about you on the Internet.
[via PC World]