(credit: Chris Potter)
A Florida appeals court has upheld a $350,000 (£240,000) damages award to a divorce attorney whose client posted defamatory reviews about the lawyer on Yelp and online legal site Avvo.
The divorcing couple, Copia Blake and Peter Birzon, strangely teamed up to write the reviews about the wife’s attorney, Ann-Marie Giustibelli, according to the appellate opinion. In a lesson that all online reviewers should heed, the appeals panel said that the Internet is not a forum with carte blanche freedom to say whatever irks you. In this instance, the divorcing couple accused the wife’s attorney of dramatically inflating fees.
Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal, in a ruling noted Friday by Law.com, upheld a trial court’s award of $350,000 in punitive damages for the couple’s online falsehoods. The court wrote:
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