Can I be sued for my truthful online review?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can I be sued for my truthful online review?

I went to a new dental clinic due to the relocation. I was never informed of the treatment that was provided. I learned about the treatment at the checkout. I thought they were performing a different procedure on me. So they just charged

me for the treatment I never was informed about. I said in my online review that I felt like they were trying to rip me off since they did something that was excessive and they never told me about the procedure. If I knew what they were

going to do, I would have opted out. I also commented on the staff that did not know anything about their savings program for people without insurance that they had on their website for a month or more. By the way, I paid my bill in full

even though I disagree with the charge. I described in my review what truly happened to me. I did not exaggerate and I felt that I was expressing my opinion. They send me a letter saying my comments are false and defamatory and if I don’t take the post down, they will sue me. Can they sue me for my post?

Asked on June 25, 2018 under Business Law, Idaho


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

There are two different issues here: 1) Can they sue? 2) Can they win?
To take 1) first--Can they sue? The answer, of course, is "yes." Anyone can file essentially any lawsuit, since the courts do not "prescreen" lawsuits to see if they are winnable. Therefore, they can file a lawsuit and force you to spend time, effort and (if you hire a lawyer) money defending it.
Then, 2) can they win? The answer is maybe. While truth is a defense to a claim of defamation, since if the statement is true, it is not defamtion, some of your statements may be hard for you to prove are true. How do you prove that the staff did not know anything about their savings program, for example? If their staff testify in court that they did know, your statement will likely be seen as untrue. How do you prove they never told you about the procedure if, say, 2 or 3 or more staff members claim they told you--will the court believe you, or believe multiple people testifying to the contrary? How do you prove they were "trying to rip me off," since that means *proving* with evidence that they had the intention to commit a criminal act? It is entirely possible, based on what you write, that they could win if they sued you for defamation, since you may be unable to prove that your statements, as obvioius as they may seem to you, are true.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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