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Va. Woman Being Sued for $750K Because of…a Harsh 'Yelp' Review?

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Jane Perez of Fairfax, Va., was unhappy with the work done on her home by Christopher Dietz’ contracting company, Dietz Development. So she did what a lot of U.S. consumers do: She logged onto Yelp and Angie’s List and posted scathing reviews.

And now Dietz is suing Perez for $750,000 over “Internet defamation.”

No, really.

“Bottom line,” Perez wrote on Angie's List, “Do not put yourself through this nightmare of a contractor,” adding that Dietz company had failed to complete certain jobs and that jewelry had gone missing in the time they worked on her home.

Dietz maintains that Perez’ reviews were “false” and that they drove away business.

“He also asked a Fairfax County court for an injunction to stop Perez from writing similar critical reviews,” The Washington Post reported.

Perez removed her Yelp review of her own accord, but the Angie’s List review remains. And although the Fairfax County judge has allowed Perez to leave the Angie’s list review up, she has been ordered to remove all mentions of missing jewelry and Dietz’ legal action against her.

"You should always have a right to free speech. She should be able to describe her experience with the contractor … she definitely told the truth," said Perez’ attorney.

As of this writing, there’s no official date set for the trial.

Here’s the full text of Perez's original Aug. 2012 Angie's List review [via The Daily Mail]:

Overall: F

Price: F

Quality: F

Responsiveness: F

Punctuality: F

Professionalism: F

Description Of Work: Dietz Development was to perform: painting, refinish floors, electrical, plumbing and handyman work. I was instead left with damage to my home and work that had to be reaccomplished for thousands more than originally estimated.

Member comments: My home was damaged' the "work" had to be re-accomplished; and Dietz tried to sue me for "monies due for his "work." I won in summary judgement (meaning that his case had no merit). Despite his claims, Dietz was/is not licensed to perform work in the state of VA. Further, he invoiced me for work not even performed and also sued me for work not even performed. Today (six months later) he just showed up at my door and '"wanted to talk to me." I said that I "didn't want to talk to him," closed the door , and called the police. (The police said his reason was that he had a "lien on my house"; however this "lien" was made null and void the day I won the case according to the court.) This is after filing my first ever police report when I found my jewelry missing and Dietz was the only one with a key. Bottom line do not put yourself through this nightmare of a contractor.

Ouch.

And here’s an official statement form Yelp [via News Channel 8]:

Consumer freedom of speech provides an important public service, protected by law. Yelp provides a valuable contribution to this dialogue by providing a two-way platform for consumers to share their experiences and for businesses to respond to their customers. Courts have consistently ruled that consumers have the right to share their truthful experiences. As a result, businesses that choose to sue their customers to silence them rather than address their comments, rarely prevail and often bring additional unwanted attention to the original criticism

Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter

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