Posting an anonymous review on a website can still get you sued.
That’s the message from a case currently before the Supreme Court of British Columbia.
Lawyer Dan Griffith, a partner in ATAC Law in Burnaby, recently applied for a court order forcing Google LLC to provide registration information about a subscriber in connection with a Google maps review.
In addition, Griffith and his law firm sought the IP addresses of the log-ins to the account within 20 days.
Justice Frits E. Verhoeven adjourned the application until he received documentation that certain affidavit evidence had been served on Google LLC’s lawyer.
“In the underlying action, the plaintiffs assert that the defendant John or Jane Doe also known as Sharon Miller posted a false and defamatory review of their legal services on ‘Google maps’ on or about March 28, 2019,” Verhoeven wrote in his reasons for judgment. “They assert that the name “Sharon Miller” is a false alias for an unidentified person. On this application, the plaintiffs seek information for the purpose of identifying this defendant.”
Griffith isn’t the first member of the B.C. Law Society to go after someone over a review.
In 2018, Vancouver lawyer Kyla Lee was awarded $1 from Justice Catherine Murray in a similar defamation action.
This came after Lee and her firm, Acumen Law Corporation, sued former client Hoan Nguyen for a defamatory post. Prior to the litigation, Lee’s firm refused the client’s demand for a $2,000 refund.
“Although generally defamation cases automatically attract a presumptive award of damages, the dearth of evidence of damage or injury in this case is significant, particularly as I have found the defendant’s post to be minimally defamatory, if at all,” Murray wrote in her ruling. “In this time when virtually everyone has instantaneous access to the internet, many use the internet to express their feelings without pause or reflection. Business people with Google Plus profiles or the like invite comments from customers. Surely no one can expect to receive all favourable reports.”
Meanwhile, B.C. billionaire Frank Giustra is suing Twitter over defamatory tweets in advance of the 2016 U.S. presidential election. At the time, Giustra was on the board of the Clinton Foundation.
And in yet another defamation case before the courts, developer Michael Ching is suing the South China Morning Post‘s Vancouver correspondent, Ian Young. A long list of documents has been filed in this case. The trial date is set for November 16 in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver.