CRIME

Jury finds dual victory in Yelp defamation case

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(WJLA) - A contractor claims he lost hundreds of thousands of dollars because of a bad review posted on Yelp.com. A judge ruled Friday he won’t get a pay-out.

It was a verdict in which Fairfax homeowner Jane Perez and contractor Christopher Dietz claimed victory, the jury saying each side had defamed the other.

“I have rarely seen a verdict where the jury said nobody gets anything,” says Raymond Battocchi, Perez’s attorney.

At the center of the $750,000 lawsuit, filed by Dietz - a Yelp.com review posted two years ago. Perez claims he lost business and that his reputation was damaged by a one-star review after he did $9,000 worth in repairs at Perez’s townhouse.

“It was never about the money, it was about clearing my name and taking the false statements down,” Dietz says.

Perez says she posted on Yelp and Angie’s List to warn consumers about Dietz’s shoddy work. She claims he never finished the work and even stole some jewelry.

“This has been an ordeal for Ms. Perez,” Battocchi says. “I am extremely pleased the jury found she did not do any damage to Mr. Dietz in any way.”

Both sides won claims on defamation and breach of contract. The jury found Dietz had trespassed, but didn’t steal anything. Despite the zero dollars in legal award, both sides appeared happy.

“One of his goals is to get the posts taken down and this should go a long way toward that,” says Sara Kropf, Dietz's attorney.

“We would’ve never filed counter claims if Ms. Perez hadn’t been sued,” says Battocchi.

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