Wednesday, September 4, 2013

TripAdvisor Gets Away from Libel Suit

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park provid...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In Seaton v. TripAdvisor, LLC (Case No. 12-6122), the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit recently affirmed the trial court's dismissal of a defamation suit brought against popular travel site TripAdvisor by a Great Smoky Mountains vacation resort over the site branding the unfortunate facility the "dirtiest hotel in America."

The Seaton-operated Grand Resort alleged that the defendant's survey two years ago used a faulty rating system and irreparably harmed the facility's reputation by placing it at the top of the list of "2011 Dirtiest Hotels." The district court found against the vacation retreat and refused to allow the plaintiff to amend its defamation complaint by adding counts alleging tortious interference with business and trade libel.

The appellate court upheld the lower court's decision in a 15-page opinion. The Sixth Circuit concluded that "TripAdvisor's use of 'dirtiest' amounts to rhetorical hyperbole [and] the general tenor of the '2011 Dirtiest Hotels ' list undermines any impression that TripAdvisor was seriously maintaining that Grand Resort is, in fact, the dirtiest hotel in America. For these reasons, TripAdvisor's placement of Grand Resort on the '2011 Dirtiest Hotels' list constitutes nonactionable opinion."

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