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  1. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
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    1,173

    Default Re: Yelp Review Leads to Defamation Small Claims Suit

    Quote Quoting jalan99
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    Since there is no transcript or court notes available if I appeal, it will be a whole new trial with no connections to the past case.
    A small claims appeal is a trial de novo -- in lay terms, a "do over." There's never a transcript in a small claims case (unless a party wants to pay a court reporter several hundred dollars to show up and prepare one, which would be extremely rare). The judge almost certainly made notes, and the clerk wouldn't know anything about that. Whether the judge kept those notes is anyone's guess. If you appeal, the new judge may well contact the prior judge to discuss the case. You may or may not be made aware if that happens.

    Quote Quoting jalan99
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    Do I now become the plaintiff and the old plaintiff becomes the defendant?
    No.

    Quote Quoting jalan99
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    Do I get to speak first and last this time around as the original plaintiff did?
    Exactly how the trial proceeds is entirely up to the judge.

    Quote Quoting jalan99
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    Even though there is no apparent record or transcript of the first trial, can still I refer to anything that was said/shown in the prior trial? . . . Can I say that the plaintiff formerly said that he could not document any financial damages from my posting?
    Since no one knows in advance what you're going to say, there's no way to prevent you from saying or referring to anything.

    Quote Quoting jalan99
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    Can I use the summary document the plaintiff provided me and that he gave to the judge?
    I don't know what "use" means in this context, but you certainly can offer it to the judge as evidence.

    Quote Quoting jalan99
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    3. Can the former plaintiff change the things he was complaining about or add new examples that he has discovered he is now also unhappy with?

    4. Could he now, for example, say that he had $2850 in damages and that he arrived at that number by comparing last years revenues to this years over a 3 month period following the review?

    5. Does the $10k damage amount (my exposure) still stand?
    Yes, yes and yes.

    Quote Quoting jalan99
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    Speaking of which, in California, businesses are limited to suing for a max of $5000. My review was against his business, which the MD happens to own. Shouldn't $5000 be the maximum limit he could sue me for?
    Since the court didn't award an amount in excess of $5k, what difference does this make? If the doctor is David Jones and he does business through a corporation called David Jones, M.D., Inc., and you want to claim that David Jones, the individual, has no standing because your review related to the corporation, you certainly can make that argument. I doubt that will fly and, unless the court decides that damages in excess of $5k are warranted, it doesn't really matter.

    Obviously, the risk here is that you'll lose a second time and get hit with some significant damages. The more prudent course of action might be to exchange a cashier's check or money order for $76 for a signed acknowledgment of satisfaction of judgment. Contrary to what one of the prior responses said, no credit reporting agency is going to become aware of this unless the doctor records an abstract of judgment with the county recorder or files a notice of judgment lien with the Secretary of State.

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    16,751

    Default Re: Yelp Review Leads to Defamation Small Claims Suit

    Quote Quoting jalan99
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    I called the court clerk on Tuesday and she said there was no transcript or notes available. She said that is the way small claims court is run and basically "it is what it is". She said I could write to the judge and ask if she could/would provide me with further details but that I should not count on a response.
    It's called a Motion for Clarification. Probably won't get a response and won't do you any good if you did.

    Quote Quoting jalan99
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    I could also file a complaint with [I think she said] the Chief Justice.
    Also won't do you any good. Judges have a lot of power and they all back each other up.

    Quote Quoting jalan99
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    Do I now become the plaintiff and the old plaintiff becomes the defendant? How does this reverse role change the process? Do I get to speak first and last this time around as the original plaintiff did?
    The parties don't change designations or positions. In a trial "de novo" my guess is that it's run the same way as it was run before. He goes first.

    Quote Quoting jalan99
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    Even though there is no apparent record or transcript of the first trial, can still I refer to anything that was said/shown in the prior trial? Can I use the summary document the plaintiff provided me and that he gave to the judge? Can I say that the plaintiff formerly said that he could not document any financial damages from my posting?
    You have his documents. You know his strengths and weaknesses. You can address them any way you want after he testifies. Bringing up his lack of financial damages isn't going to help you because he was awarded $1 because he had no financial damages.

    Understand that just denying what he says isn't going to get you a win. You are going to have to provide EVIDENCE that you did not defame him, not just sayso.

    There is no way to suggest what that EVIDENCE might be without reading your review. Post a link to it if you don't want to quote it. It's already public so revealing it here won't change anything for you.

    Can the former plaintiff change the things he was complaining about or add new examples that he has discovered he is now also unhappy with?
    Yes.

    Could he now, for example, say that he had $2850 in damages and that he arrived at that number by comparing last years revenues to this years over a 3 month period following the review?
    Yes.

    Does the $10k damage amount (my exposure) still stand?
    Yes.

    Speaking of which, in California, businesses are limited to suing for a max of $5000. My review was against his business, which the MD happens to own. Shouldn't $5000 be the maximum limit he could sue me for?
    Depends on how he named himself as Plaintiff.

    John Doe - $10,000.

    John Doe Clinic - $5,000

    I wasn't criticizing his personal character or reputation but the service I received from him through the business.
    It was a personal attack no matter how you spin it. He IS his business.

    Again, post your review or you are just wasting your time here.

  3. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2018
    Location
    California
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: Yelp Review Leads to Defamation Small Claims Suit

    Quote Quoting pg1067
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    Why not just pull up the review, copy the text, and paste it into a post here (with any identifying information removed or changed)?
    Because it is a decided case now on the public court files now. With snippets of actual text to work with anyone can search Yelp or use Google to do so to get the actual review. That would then give the MD's name and that name could be searched on court websites, revealing my full name and address, which I don't want to do.

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