Fishersville, VA asked in Libel & Slander for Virginia

Q: I was asked to take down my review because it was libelous, but I only spoke the truth to warn others, what should I do?

I posted a bad review on Zillow about a property manager. I listed my facts about why I thing she is not someone I would recommend. Everything I mentioned was true. My username was some randomly generated username as well. But I received an email from her saying I have 24 hours to take it down because it was libelous otherwise she would contact her lawyer. First is it really libelous if I told the truth, and 2nd my name is not in the review and the username was randomly generated so can she prove in court it was from me? For her to even assume it is me, wouldn't that be admission to guilt? My intent was to warn others that she is not someone whom the 5 star ratings represents. I even wonder if she has threatened others when they posted a negative review.

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1 Lawyer Answer

Lee E. Berlik

PREMIUM
Answered
  • Reston, VA
  • Licensed in Virginia

A: You can find a quick summary of Virginia defamation law at https://www.virginiadefamationlawyer.com/2013/02/defamation-of-character-libel-and-slander-law-in-virginia.html. You'll see that falsity is a required element of any defamation claim. This means that if, as you say, everything you wrote was 100% true, it is not "libelous" and you should be fine. In response to the second part of your question, you should assume that if there is a court case, the plaintiff will probably be able to prove you were the one who wrote the review. How? By asking you directly. (You don't want to commit perjury, do you?) But don't worry about that. You told the truth, and you exercised your right to criticize a local business. Do not let her intimidate you.

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