Q: What does a business have to prove for a defamation case in an online review?
This is the general rule:
Four elements must be present for a plaintiff to establish a prima facie case of
defamation, including that: “(1) . . . the defendant made a defamatory statement to a third
person, (2) . . . the statement was false, (3) . . . the defendant was legally at fault in making
the statement, and (4) . . . the plaintiff suffered harm.” Hosmane v. Seley-Radtke, 227 Md.
App. 11, 20–21 (2016) (citing Offen v. Brenner, 402 Md. 191, 198 (2007)), aff'd, 450 Md.
One issue that might be difficult to overcome in an online review situation is that statements of opinion can not be proven false. The review must include a provably false statement of fact. If that burden (among others) is overcome, the business also must prove what their damages are. Depending on what was said, and with what level of malice, damages might be presumed.
Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.
The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.
Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.