My question involves defamation in the state of: California
I posted a one star negative review of an MD on Yelp, where I related my experiences, observations and dissatisfaction with the visit. The MD tried to get me to take the post down (as he has tried to do with other people who posted negative reviews), which I refused to do.
He then sued me in California small claims court for defamation and libel in the amount of $10k (maximum allowable amount).
We had our date in court and the plaintiff complained about two specific statements in my post. I thought I did a good job in showing that none of what I wrote was patently false, which I am led to believe is the legal standard that has to met for a defamation claim to succeed. Additionally, the plaintiff could not document any financial losses when queried by the judge.
At the end, the judge said her judgment would be mailed to us.
A few weeks later, I received the judgment, which was apparently against me (defendant) because it stated that I shall pay $1 principal + $75 for the plaintiff's filing fee. This was communicated via a checkbox on form SC-130.
There were no other attachments, explanations or anything else explaining why or how the judge arrived at this decision, so I have no idea what she found to be defamatory.
As this is the first time I have ever been in court, is this normal process small claims court or for such a suit? Do small claims court judges have to follow the rule of law? Can I request detail as to how this judgment was arrived at?
I am leaning towards an appeal as I am certain that I did not make any false statements in that review and don't want this apparently losing judgment on my record forever.