Call me today for a 15 minute consultation
David R. Hartwig, Esq.
Family Law & Divorce
Attorney & Counselor at Law
Veteran Military Discount

Are bad online reviews defamation? Spencer v. Glover

On Behalf of | Apr 24, 2017 | Defamation

The Utah Court of Appeals has issued an opinion addressing that questions, The case is Spencer v. Glover, just released.

This case involves an attorney who represented a client in a divorce. The client subsequently posted a lengthy and derogatory review of the attorney. After attorney asked client to remove the review and client’s refusal, attorney sued for defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and intentional interference with prospective economic relations.

Client moved to dismiss all claims under Rule 12(b)(6), failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The trial court granted that motion, determining client’s statements were mere opinion and that the other claims were not sufficiently supported.

The Court of Appeals held that the trial court had correctly dismissed attorney’s defamation claim, because the review was an expression of opinion, and the underlying facts were not defamatory. In reaching that conclusion, the court found that client was in a nasty divorce, upset about funds owed to the attorney, and worried about the division of assets in the divorce.

Sure the client used hyperbolic phrases throughout the review, per the Court of Appeals. But that was okay because in the context of the review “it is unlikely that any reader would take [the review] at face value… most readers would view it as exaggerated commentary expressing [client’s] frustration.”

So, that is the state of defamation and online reviews. Per our Courts, readers of negative reviews don’t take the review seriously and most readers will simply look at it as exaggerated commentary expressing frustration.

I personally disagree, it is my opinion that the majority of readers of reviews do take all such “exaggerated commentaries” to heart in making consumer decisions. But then again, our justices are not out in public having to operate in the market place, particularly the digital market place, to obtain clients — at least in my opinion.

I am David R. Hartwig, Esq., a Salt Lake City attorney with extensive experience helping parents resolve simple or high-conflict custody issues reaching arrangements that work for children and parents. Child custody involves parent-time and visitation schedules, and can affect support. I help in all of these areas, providing comprehensive service clients need to achieve their custody goals.

Factors In Child Custody Decisions

As an experienced Utah child custody lawyer, I understand that custody cases may become a contentious issue even years after an order is finalized. The trend in Utah toward joint custody often creates messy, unworkable situations, which ultimately lead to enforcement issues when parents do not abide by their custody orders.

The best interests of the child must be considered, including:

• Whether joint legal or physical custody will benefit the child’s physical, psychological and emotional needs, or the child’s development

• The parents’ ability to give first priority to the child’s welfare, and reach shared decisions in the child’s best interest

• Whether each parent is capable of encouraging and accepting a positive relationship between the child and the other parent

• Whether both parents participated in raising the child before the divorce

• The distance between the parents’ homes

• The parents’ maturity and their willingness and ability to protect the child from conflict that may arise between the parents

• The parents’ ability to cooperate with each other and make decisions jointly

• Any history of, or potential for, child abuse, spouse abuse, or kidnapping

• Any other factors the court finds relevant

Despite the complicated and sensitive nature of custody matters, I have helped many clients successfully establish custody orders.

Get Help With Your Child Custody Issue

If you have a child custody issue, please contact me, David R. Hartwig, Esq. I am an experienced Salt Lake City custody lawyer dedicated to helping clients resolve complex custody issues and implement necessary custody orders. For high-conflict cases, I am also one of the few Utah child custody modification attorneys trained as a Special Master for ongoing dispute resolution.

FindLaw Network

Practice Areas