Can a small business sue me for libel/slander because of a bad on-line review?

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Can a small business sue me for libel/slander because of a bad on-line review?

I was unsatisfied with a moving company’s service, so I voiced my bad experiences on a couple of review sites. None of what I said was untrue, but very specific to my experiences. The company called and yelled at me and threatened to take legal action if I didn’t take my reviews down. They said calling them “unprofessional” was false, along with other claims I made. Do they actually have a case against me?

Asked on August 1, 2011 Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

There's the legal answer and the practical one.

Legally, if a public statement is either true or an opinion, it is not defamation, since defamation is the making of a false statement of fact. Generally speaking, "unprofessional" would be considered an opinion, since what one person considers unprofessional, another would not--it is a value judgment, not a fact.

Practically, if what you have stated is at all close to being factual statements, the business can probably at least initiate a lawsuit and force you to defend yourself. If it's not worth running that risk, you should probably delete the reviews. Even if you you'd ultimately win, is it worth being sued just to voice you opinion?


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