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Real Estate

Builder sues homeowner for negative online review

A construction company owner is the latest in a growing number who are fighting back against negative online reviews posted about their services. According to Forbes, Christopher Dietz is suing a former classmate for posting a bad review about his company on Yelp.

The woman, Jane Perez, claimed on Yelp that the company charged her for work that was never completed, damaged her home, and stole her jewelry.

Dietz is suing the woman for $750,000 in a defamation lawsuit. He says the negative review has caused him to lose job opportunities and has harmed his company's reputation.

Studies show that consumer review sites such as Yelp can greatly help and hurt companies. For example, a one star increase in rating on Yelp can yield a 5 to 9 percent increase in revenue for a company, according to a Harvard study.

Recently, a company was rewarded $1.6 million in a lawsuit against a blogger who accused another company of stealing money, Forbes reports.

"These lawsuits are tricky since they present a conflict between freedom of speech and a company's online persona," Forbes reported. "Freedom of speech, however, doesn't extend to defamatory statements. Since defamation must be based on a false statement in order for the writer to be held liable, lawyers advise writers of these reviews to stick to opinions and truths. If you don't lie, misrepresent yourself or exaggerate your experience, you should not be held liable."

With the current case, Dietz says he completed the work in the contract for Perez but she allegedly refused to pay. Dietz filed an initial lawsuit against her. Soon after, he says he discovered her negative comments about his company on Yelp.

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