If I filed a BBB complaint against a painting company based on the contract provided to me but it was the wrong company, can I be sued?

The company ignored 2 letters and a phone call from the BBB, so they closed the complaint in my favor. Then the owner began calling me and very aggressively stated that he was not the same company. I immediately called the BBB and got them to reverse the complaint and restore his rating. Now he is demanding I give him $300 or he will sue me for slander (surely he means libel). I think he has no case since he did nothing to answer the complaint when given the chance.

Asked on July 31, 2014 under Business Law, Ohio


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

He may have a case: defamation (libel and slander are both sub-types of defamation) is the making to any third party or other person or group of a false statement of fact which damages that person's reputation; what you did seems to fall under that heading. There is no obligation or requirement that the person or business defamed has to rely to or answer the defamatory statement. Therefore, it is possible you could be sued; or rather--he definitely has enough to at least file a lawsuit and spend time and money defending it; it is possible that he could win, but even if he loses, as stated, you'll incur costs in defending. Note that if you do decide to compensate him to avoid a lawsuit, make sure to get a written agreement (before you give him the money) that he will not sue or take other action against you.

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