Yelp Forced To Remove Defamatory Reviews–Hassell v. Bird

22 01 2017

The Ruling

This case involves Dawn Hassell, an attorney (naturally), and Ava Bird, a former client. Hassell alleges Bird posted a negative review on Yelp under the name Birdzeye B (Bird Birdzeye–get it?). A few months later, Birdzeye updated the review with further negative comments. (Along the way, Hassell also replied to Birdzeye’s review sharing substantive details about their relationship, which may be a no-no under attorney confidentiality rules. See also Cassandra Burke’s article). There was a second negative Yelp review of Hassell by “J.D.” Hassell claimed the review must be fake because she never had a client with the initials J.D., even though a client reviewing a lawyer might logically prefer a pseudonym. Hassell cited other reasons to believe JD’s review was a fake review from Bird. Yelp filtered JD’s review, but the court doesn’t discuss the implications of that filtering further.

Hassell sued Bird, and Bird defaulted. Eventually, the trial court held a “default prove-up hearing,” and Bird no-showed again. The court awarded over a half-million in damages against Bird and granted the following injunctive relief:

Case citation: Hassell v. Bird, A143233 (Cal. App. Ct. June 7, 2016)


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