What can be do if the former owners of the restaurant that we purchased is publicly badmouthing us online?

They had the place for 9 years prior to us purchasing it. They are still friends through Facebook with many of the locals. One of the locals posted a rant on their Facebook about our business and the former owners decided to chime in with some negative comments. This was all done publicly and anyone can see it. Do we have any rights to sue the former owners for what they are saying about our business? We have an agreement to pay a loan through the bank that paid them for the business and here they are bad mouthing us and helping our business loose customers.

Asked on July 22, 2015 under Business Law, Maine


B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

If the comments that they are making are not true, then you may have a potential claim for defamation... especially since it's impacting your business.  If your contract had any provisions about interfering with your business operations, you may have some additional contractual remedies. 

Before you file either suit, have an attorney send them a demand letter requesting that they cease with the negative comments....sometimes this is all that is required.

Aside from the legal aspect, you may need to hire a small public relations firm to help you overcome some of the negative aspects of the rants on Facebook.  The fee that you pay them would be part of the damages you would seek if you had to follow-up with an actual suit for defamation.

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