Monday, February 11, 2013

Ill. Court Shields Anonymous Online Griper from Realty Co.

Image representing Yelp as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase
Yelp! account holder Diana Z., Chicago, IL can retain her aura of mystery thanks to an Appellate Court of  Illinois ruling denying a realty management company's efforts to identify the unidentified critic blasting it for charging her rent collection late fees.

In Brompton Building, LLC v. Yelp! Inc. (2013 WL 416185), the management company, whom the anonymous Diana Z. mistakenly identified as managing the apartment building in which she lived, sought to identify its critic pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 224, which states that a "person or entity who wishes to engage in discovery for the sole purpose of ascertaining the identity of one who may be responsible in damages may file an independent action for such discovery."

As reported by prominent Chicago social media lawyer Evan Brown in his law firm's online newsletter, the Appellate Court affirmed a trial court's denial of the Rule 224 petition. The appellate court ruled that the plaintiff failed to show how it was damaged by the Yelp! poster, and noted the statements at issue were non-actionable opinions, rather than assertions of fact.
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