Division III: Website Warning Consumers Does Not Rise to Level of Defamation
This case comes from an interesting procedural standpoint. Usually, a motion for summary judgment is done to dismiss a case. Essentially the motion says that, given the undisputed facts, the court must reach a certain result. Here, it is unclear from the result whether there was a motion to find defamation, a motion to get the defamation claim dismissed, or whether there were cross-motions. The end result was the same, the defamation claim was dismissed.
Sommer had put up a website warning consumers about what he felt were improprieties with the Ranch. The Ranch felt the statements were defamatory and moved for summary judgment. The issue here was whether Sommer had stated a false fact, or whether he had expressed an opinion.
In the present case, the Court of Appeals considered the website and determined it was expressing opinions, could not be confused with the Ranch's website, and, as a matter of policy, allowing a business to sue for every unhappy customer's review would stifle speech.
I am going to take a wild guess and say this is setup for future potential cases based on yelp reviews.
If you have been sued for defamation, allow us to help. The attorneys at Issaquah Law Group have defended claims for defamation and have succeeded in getting these claims dismissed on summary judgment.