Tuesday, January 07, 2014

How to make Yelp come across

In Yelp, Inc., v. Hadeed Carpet Cleaning, the Court of Appeals in an opinion by Judge Petty, joined by Judge Frank with Senior Judge Haley dissenting in part, upheld a civil contempt finding against online review site Yelp for failure to disclosure identifying information of some reviewers. The opinion is pretty free-ranging, with a lengthy Shakespeare quote, lots of legislative history, discussion of case law from other states - completely at odds with the Virginia Supreme Court style from before 2000 that I described in the prior post. In the dissent, Judge Haley gets to the nub of what strikes me as the peculiarity of the case - the failure to state a cause of action. You can't sue a bunch of John Does for falsely claiming to be customers posting negative reviews and then go looking for evidence, the John Does if anyone of them were actual named persons would have had the case dismissed before the subpoena was enforced. Even so, this opinion is chock full of information about how to proceed to get information of this kind.

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