Update: Carpet cleaners versus Yelp lawsuit comes to an end
RICHMOND, VA — The well-publicized defamation lawsuit between Yelp and Virginia’s Hadeed Carpet Cleaning has come to an end after the Virginia Supreme Court ruled the lower courts lacked the jurisdiction to require Yelp to turn over identities of anonymous reviewers, according to the Washington Post.
Raighne C. Delaney, Hadeed’s attorney, said in the article, “It’s a real blow for the large number of businesses that have issues with Yelp.”
The case, which is at the heart of the Internet free-speech debate, began in 2012 when the carpet cleaning company filed suit against seven anonymous Yelp reviewers, claiming they were false reviews created by competitors.
A circuit court judge ordered that Yelp turn over the names of the anonymous users, but Yelp refused, and last year the appellate court ruled in favor of Hadeed, as well, and again required Yelp to turn over the names. Again Yelp refused.
On Thursday, April 16, 2015, Virginia’s Supreme Court found in favor of Yelp, as it said the lower courts had no authority to require the review site to turn over names since its headquarters is in California.
Hadeed Carpet Cleaning may choose to file a lawsuit in California now, but the requirements for proving speech has gone beyond First Amendment rights are more stringent in that state than in Virginia.
“If Hadeed turns to California courts to learn the identities of its critics, those courts will require it to show evidence to meet the well-accepted First Amendment test for identifying anonymous speakers,” Paul Alan Levy, Yelp’s attorney in the case, said in the article. “And so far, Hadeed has not come close to providing such evidence.”
Delaney reports in the article that Hadeed was still deciding whether it would begin again with the suit in California.
For the original Washington Post article, please click here.