Is Your Business Being Impaired By Yelp? You Are Not Alone...
But theTime Is Coming...
From the very beginning, Yelp was not friendly to business owners. As a co-founder of Yelp Russel Simmons said: "The site wasn't set up to serve businesses. It was meant to serve the consumer. Without the community of reviewers, there is no Yelp." Nevertheless, Yelp offers business owners their site for advertisement. And sometimes, when business refuses to pay Yelp for the advertisement, most of their positive reviews got "filtered." As a result, businesses were punished for not paying Yelp.
Since filing the case "Boris Levitt vs. Yelp, Inc." on March 12, 2010, Law Office of Murray & Associates and Law office of Ongaro - Burtt have been contacted by many business owners who were impaired by Yelp and its manipulative policies. Soon after that, on April 05, 2010 Yelp, being under the pressure of the lawsuits, made a first step towards business owners.
A few cases were consolidated into one case, and the Law Office of Ongaro, Burtt & Louderback LLP (now Thompson & Knight LLP) was appointed as a Lead Counsel for the plaintiffs.
Unfortunately for business owners, on October 26, 2011, after a year and a half of fighting for fair justice, Federal Judge Edward M. Chen granted Defendant's Motion to Dismiss the case.
Now Yelp has a "license for extortion" under the Communications Decency Act (CDA), which gives Yelp an "editorial" immunity. And Yelp will use this "license" as much as it can.
We still hope that it is not over. On November 7, 2011 an appeal was filed in US Court of Appeal for the 9th Circuit.
On February 28, 2012 an Opening Appellants' Brief was filed by the Law Office of Murray & Associates in US Court of Appeal for the 9th Circuit.
On July 11, 2013 Oral Argument Hearing took place in 9th Circuit US Court of Appeal.
On September 2, 2014 9th Circuit Court of Appeal expressed its opinion that Yelp may give higher ratings to companies that buy advertising. The appellate court opinion states: “Yelp’s manipulation of user reviews, assuming it occurred, was not wrongful use of economic fear ...” It elaborates: “The business owners may deem the posting or order of user reviews as a threat of economic harm, but it is not unlawful for Yelp to post and sequence the reviews. As Yelp has the right to charge for legitimate advertising services, the threat of economic harm that Yelp leveraged is, at most, hard bargaining.” . It may seem like a victory for the online review site. But we, plaintiffs in this class-action suit, think Yelp is the loser. This Court's opinion just proves that Yelp's ratings just can't be trusted.
On September 16, 2014 Law Office of Murray & Associates filed A Petition for Rehearing to the Panel.
If you or your business was impaired by Yelp's conduct, and you would like to participate in this case in order to stop Yelp from misleading the public and misrepresenting the average rates of businesses by manipulating of reviews, please complete this form and e-mail it to StopYelp@aol.com.