Q: I'm a realtor in MD and a client posted a defamatory google review...can I sue for non-economic damages?
A: I am also a MD broker, and we have had this question from many of our clients, over time. The answer is entirely dependent on what the review says, and the circumstance. But it is extremely unlikely that you would ever recover non-economic damages. Have you exhausted your remedies with Google? Have you posted a response to the review? The best may be to solicit a flood of good reviews to swamp the one bad review.
A: You can certainly try, but defamation/libel cases are notoriously difficult and hard to get judgments for.
First off, let me quote my late, old professor of Business Law back at Penn. "Of course, you can sue. Any idiot can sue. All it takes is a pen, paper, and the filing fee … and on occasion a crayon is substituted for the pen. The question you are trying to ask is whether you can win."
Defamation is a complex area of law, and defamation of a business that holds itself out to the public is a disfavored cause of action. There are many qualified as well as absolute privileges to protect the reviewer. If you have been harmed by a false statement about you or your business, there may be a cause of action. You should review the facts with a lawyer privately.
You ask, however, if you can sue for non-economic damages, and I do not know why you would do that. Lawsuits generally award damages, and the damages are measured in money. A lawsuit is not an appropriate forum for seeking an apology letter because your feelings were hurt. The likelihood that you would get an injunction forbidding someone from insulting you in the future is quite remote.
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