Can talking badly about someone online really be enough for a lawsuit? Is it a crime to state negative reviews about a company? It can be, particularly if you're harassing the company or being untruthful. Sometimes, contracts between you and the company also ban you from saying negative things about the service. On top of that, your views could be seen as going too far and become a topic of cyber bullying. Is that fair? That's the question this couple is asking, since they're being sued for up to $1 million by a petsitting company.
According to the lawsuit, the company watched the couple's two dogs and a betta fish for a short time while they were on vacation. The couple later posted a Yelp review that stated that they were dissatisfied with their service and had concerns about the bills from the company, fees and the lack of updates they received during their vacation. The couple claims their betta fish may have received sub-optimal care, and the petsitter didn't leave behind their house keys as requested.
Is telling their side of the truth a crime? The lawsuit claims it is, because it violates the non-disparagement clause in the contract. The contract essentially bans the couple from writing negative comments about the transaction of services.
The petsitters claim that the couple had said their dogs were well cared for when they returned, but then they proceeded to slander the company online. The sitters reported that the negative stories about the statements led to harassment, identity theft, crank calls and even death threats.
Source: Consumerist, "Petsitter Now Suing Couple For Up To $1 Million For Negative Yelp Review," Chris Morran, May 05, 2016