Thursday, February 25, 2010

Yelp is guilty of "extortion," says attorney Jared Beck

Posted By on Thu, Feb 25, 2010 at 6:37 PM

More on the proposed class action lawsuit against Yelp we reported on earlier today, this time from Fat City's sister paper in Miami:

It's gonna be ugly.

jaredheadshot1.gif
Beck & Lee
The guy who's going to make it that way is Jared Beck,

a Harvard grad who plans on being the bulldog. The Miami lawyer --

who also practices in California, where the suit was filed -- reads the

paper, as you can tell from his Twitter account. Though he works in real estate (in Miami? shows he's smart), this is one nasty litigator.

Here's what he has to say:

"This

case goes to the heart of Yelp's business practices. It is a very

popular website that has gained tremendous reach. The essence of our

lawsuit is unfair business practices. Some have called it extortion and

others blackmail.

"Our client is a veterinary hospital in Long

Beach. They came with an issue that a number of

negative postings were there about them. Flat-out falsehoods. They

contacted Yelp directly. 'What can you do about these negative

reviews?' they asked. 'The content is completely false.'

"The

response from Yelp was that, 'We can do this for you if you enter into

an advertising

contract for $300 a month for 12 months. We can manipulate the content.

We can bury

them so the visitors won't see them.' They demonstrated this to our

client, who decided it was unethical and wanted no part of it.

"We looked into the situation further. We realized it wasn't a rogue sales rep, but a company-wide practice.


"We feel that filing this as a class action is the way to go. Since filing it, we

have been inundated with calls from around the country by people claiming the

same kind of conduct. We expect to be adding a number of other businesses to

that lawsuit as representatives. We have received dozens and dozens of calls.

"Ultimately,

when you go up against a well-capitalized firm like Yelp, you want to

bring as much manpower as possible to the plaintiff's side. That's why

we are getting involved with the California firm in this case. We think

they are going to get high-powered lawyers. We think you need to muster

all the troops you can get. My partner -- my wife -- and I are both on

the bar in Calfornia.

"We just got a case number in this case,

and the judge will probably schedule a conference soon. There is no

date for a hearing as of yet."

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