Michigan company sues woman for $25,000 after poor Yelp review

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  • A Michigan air conditioning company has sued a local woman for $25,000 after she left a negative Yelp review about the business that the company calls defamatory.
  • North Wind Heating & Air Conditioning accused her of posting “false and defamatory statements” about the company that damaged her reputation and cost the company at least six customers a day.
  • A lawyer representing the woman said the company’s lawsuit was “a complete abuse of the legal system”.
  • This is far from the first time companies have filed lawsuits to overturn certain online reviews — many states have passed legislation preventing such lawsuits, but Michigan is not one of them.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A Michigan air-conditioning company is suing a local woman for $25,000 in damages after she left a bad Yelp review that the company calls defamatory.

Court records show North Wind Heating & Air Conditioning filed a lawsuit against its former client, Lisa Agostino, in July, just days after posting the Yelp review. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for November 12.

North Wind’s complaint accuses Agostino of posting “false and defamatory statements” about the company that damaged its reputation and cost the company at least six customers a day.

Agostino’s attorney, Clarance Dass, told WXYZ that North Wind’s lawsuit was a “complete abuse of the legal system” and that his client has a First Amendment right to express his opinions on the Internet.

“She thinks she has a right to air grievances against companies that do business publicly,” Dass said. “If she removes her post, she is giving the company the opportunity to muzzle all of her other customers and their bad reviews. People need to know that there are companies that are not doing a good job, and there are to who do. good jobs.”

It’s not the first time companies have tried to sue over negative comments online.

Agostino’s review, posted under the username Lisa A., gave the company a star in July and accused it of “abusing” the price of a capacitor.

The review says North Wind charged her $100 for a new capacitor, but she said she later learned from Lowe’s staff that she could buy it for less money.

A response on Yelp from company owner Carrie Szajna argued that Szajna tried to explain over the phone why the capacitor was $100, but Agostino “was screaming and wouldn’t give me a moment to talk, then m ‘ hung up on him”.

Szajna told Insider in a statement that Agostino was never billed for the company’s services and that he “offered himself a solution to the dispute” and accepted it. But then Agostino posted his review on Yelp.

“A few days later, Ms. Agostino posted several false statements to North Wind online. She claims she paid for the service call and the replacement part, which she did not. She claimed that she had been scammed, which she was not. Along with many other false claims,” Szajna said.

She continued: “These statements have significantly affected North Wind’s business. North Wind is a small local business. Ms. Agostino’s false and defamatory statements have not only affected [sic] North Wind’s business, but had a direct negative effect on its ability to manage its employees and their families, all because it made misrepresentations.”

Szajna also told Insider that North Wind “simply sought removal” of Agostino’s Yelp review and “never wanted any money.”

Read more: Yelp uses its data to reveal the biggest winner and biggest loser in today’s economy — here’s what it has to say about what consumers want

This is far from the first time companies have sued for negative comments online.

The issue has sparked First Amendment debates for years and prompted some states to pass so-called anti-gag laws, or statutes that prevent companies from using a legal maneuver known as a “strategic lawsuit against corruption.” public participation” – essentially, suing or threatening to sue people for exercising their First Amendment rights.

But Michigan doesn’t have an anti-SLAPP law, and North Wind argued the dispute isn’t about free speech.

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