A California appellate court recently affirmed a lower court’s decision to require Yelp to remove three defamatory reviews. The First Appellate District did, however, remand the case to the trial court to narrow the terms of the removal order, which ordered Yelp to also remove potential future reviews.
Despite the court determining that the removal order was an overbroad prior restraint on speech, the June 7, 2016 decision was seen as a major loss for Yelp and a blow to the protections provided to websites by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA).
Dawn Hassell is the managing attorney of the Hassell Law Group, a California personal injury firm. Hassell and her firm represented Ava Bird during the summer of 2012.
However, after 25 days, Hassell withdrew from representation and, in January 2013, Bird published a negative—and allegedly false—review about her experiences with Hassell and her firm.
Hassell attempted to speak with Bird about the Yelp review. After Hassell’s call went unreturned, her office sent Bird an email requesting that she remove the “factual inaccuracies and defamatory remarks” from Yelp.