We are living in the Internet Age where one can write about product, business or service using blogs, forums and/or on review sites. Some people call it freedom of speech. Your comments are your individual opinion and they are protected by the constitution. However, it is very easy to cross the fine line of individual opinion.
In a recent case, an anonymous client of New York lawyer, Robert Feldman, went to popular online forum Ripoffreport and wrote about the attorney. New York lawyer found the comments unfair and allegedly responded to these comments publicly by making reference to ex -client’s criminal case history and calling him” emotionally disturbed”.
This instance didn’t end there. A former client of Mr. Feldman reacted by filing a defamation lawsuit against him. The plaintiff denied making the online remarks. You would think New York Attorney will respond to this case by bringing all a bunch of proof to the court. On the contrary, Feldman failed to appear at the hearing on a motion, and this promoted Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Cynthia Kern to order Feldman to take down some of the comments that caused the issue.
Plaintiff, a law student, also asked the court to order Feldman not to make such comments in the future. However, the Judge declined this request by explaining that such prior restraint on speech could not be justified.
Mr. Feldman told the news agency that he was not notified of Tuesday’s hearing. The plaintiff is now pursuing a malpractice suit against Feldman.
This story is a good example of the love-hate relationship of freedom of speech. If you are a business owner responding to your customer online comments than make sure your comments are backed by proof. Personal attacks even in an online forum can result in an in-law suite.