Judge Fines 67 Year Old Woman $1,000 for Submitting a Negative Yelp! Review

September 24, 2015   |   John Vibes

John Vibes
September 23, 2015

(ANTIMEDIA) Staten Island, New York — 67-year-old Emily Fanelli of Staten Island was fined $1,000 for leaving a negative Yelp review for a business owner that she says gave her terrible service. According to Fanelli, the owner of a local floor refinishing business called “Mr. Sandless” destroyed her home and did not provide the service he promised her.

After being entirely unsatisfied with the experience, she decided to leave negative reviews for the company because after all, that is what reviews are for: to warn other customers about potentially unpleasant situations.

Writing on Yelp! Fanelli said,

“This guy mat the owner is a scam do not use him you will regret doing business with this company I’m going to court he is a scam customer please beware he will destroy your floors he is nothing by a liar he robs customers, and promises you everything if you want s— then go with him if you like nice work find another he is A SCAM LIAR BULL—-ER.”

Staten Island Civil Court Judge Philip Straniere decided that since she used the terms “scam” and “con artist,” she was guilty of libel, ruling  she owed $1,000 to Matt Gardiner, the owner of the Mr. Sandless.

Fanelli responded to the ruling in an interview with the Daily News, saying, “People do reviews all the time. I shouldn’t have to pay anything. It’s freedom of speech.”

However, Judge Straniere said that her rights to free speech went out the window when she used the word “scam.”

Terms such as ‘scam,’ ‘con artist,’ and ‘robs’ imply actions approaching criminal wrongdoing rather than someone who failed to live up to the terms of a contract. They were personal in their invective and were designed to impugn his integrity and business practices with the intent to damage his business reputation,” Straniere said.

A spokesperson for Yelp expressed disapproval of the lawsuit, saying, “Consumers have the right to express their opinions about truthful experiences online. Because of the First Amendment, it is rare that we hear about consumers being sued for exercising their right to free speech. We frequently find that a better course of action, rather than suing your customers, is publicly responding to a critical review in the same forum.”

Fanelli is planning to file an appeal against the lawsuit immediately. Just before leaving the court, she told the judge, “I’m not letting him get away with it. I’m a fighter. I’ll fight you tooth and nail.”

This article (Judge Fines 67 Year Old Woman $1,000 for Submitting a Negative Yelp! Review) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to John Vibes and theAntiMedia.org. Anti-Media Radio airs weeknights at 11pm Eastern/8pm Pacific. If you spot a typo, email edits@theantimedia.org.

Author: John Vibes

John Vibes joined Anti-Media as an independent journalist in October of 2014. His topics of interest include agorism, anarchism, consciousness, the Drug War, and spirituality. Born in Philadelphia, he currently resides in Maryland.

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  1. She should have been fined for not knowing how to use periods in a sentence.

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  2. well if he promises to do good work for pay and doesnt it is a scam.. and if he takes the money without doin g the job hes robbing.. if hes done it more than once he is conning multiple people to pay for shoddy work.. so those terms could be used accurately to describe said action.

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  3. If she had said "In my opinion he's a scam……….." she would have been safe.

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  4. My last month paycheck was for 11000 dollars… All i did was simple online work from comfort at home for 3-4 hours/day that I got from this agency I discovered over the internet and they paid me for it 95 bucks every hour…
    Try it yourself
    ——–> ­­­­­­­­t­­­­­­i­­­­­­n­­­­­­y­­­­­­u­­­­­­r­­­­­­l­­­­­­.­­­­­­c­­­­­­o­­­­­­m­­­­­­/jobsfb55

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  5. She should have filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.

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  6. Perhaps…but in American courts you're rolling dice when looking for justice.

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  7. Uhhh… What do YOU call signing a contract and then not living up to its terms? Sounds like a scam to me!

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  8. BBB is totally worthless. It's just a front. They do Nothing for you. I was horribly cheated by a tranny shop in Phoenix. They even robbed the change from my glove box, glove compartment, and doubled their price After the car was apart.

    I went there because they had a BBB sign. I contacted BBB and it turned out it was an old sign; they weren't a member. Yet I went by a year later and BBB hadn't even Bothered to have their logo removed.

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