False. Fake. Baseless. Harmful. Malicious.

These are some of the words that businesses have used to describe defamatory posts that have been placed on all types of internet websites including Google Places, Yahoo, Yelp, Angie's List and others. Sometimes these defamatory reviews are placed there by individuals looking to harm a business or even by competitors. Even law firms are suing to obtain information about who is posting anonymous, defamatory comments about their firms, to get the posts removed and to collect money damages from the person(s) responsible for the content. See In re "Ben Doe", D-1-GN-11-003888, in the 98th Judicial District Court of Travis County, Texas. What makes a review defamatory? Under Texas law, "[d]efamation is a false statement about a person, published to a third party, without legal excuse, which damages the person's reputation." Fiber Systems Int., Inc. v. Roehrs, 470 F.3d 1150, 1161 (5th Cir. 2006)(quoting Moore v. Waldrop, 166 S.W.3d 380, 384 (Tex. App. -- Waco 2005, no pet.)).  For a plaintiff who is not a public figure to establish a defamation claim under Texas law, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant:  (1) published a statement; (2) that was defamatory concerning the plaintiff; (3) while acting negligently with regard to the truth of the statement.  Nasti v. CIBA Specialty Chems., 492 F.3d 589, 596 (5th Cir. Tex. 2007) (citing WFAA-TV, Inc. v. McLemore, 978 S.W.2d 568, 571 (Tex. 1998)).  "In suits brought by private individuals, truth is an affirmative defense to slander."  Randall's Food Mkts. v. Johnson, 891 S.W.2d 640, 646 (Tex. 1995). In dealing with internet defamation for reviews placed on Google Places, Yahoo, Yelp, Angie's List and others, often the first step is determining who wrote the review, as most profiles do not provide detailed information about the poster. One procedure that may be helpful is a pre-suit request for a subpoena or deposition is filed, something which is called a "202 petition," to determine the identity of the poster of the defamatory content. A 202 petition can be filed to investigate a potential claim or suit. Tex. R. Civ. P. 202. Often these petitions are directed towards discovery from Google or an internet service provider like AT&T, Road Runner or others to determine the identity of the poster. If you have been targeted by a false and disparaging review or post on the internet, you are encouraged to contact a defamation attorney to explore remedies under the law for clearing your name.

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