In the published opinion today, the First District Court of Appeal reversed the dismissal of a lawsuit by the firm’s client, ZL Technologies, Inc. for defamation against several persons who posted false and defamatory anonymous “reviews” on the popular website Glassdoor.com. The Marin County Superior Court had concluded that the reviews were non-actionable opinion and therefore denied ZL’s request to compel production of the names and contact information of the defendants from Glassdoor and dismissed the case. The Court of Appeal reversed, concluding that all but one of the reviews contains defamatory statements. The case was sent back to the trial court for further proceedings. The Court’s 37 page published opinion clarifies the standard of proof that must be met to discover the identity of anonymous internet posters who cross the line between hyperbole and defamation. The Court’s opinion recognizes the important reputational rights that can be harmed through anonymous internet reviews, balances the need to protect those rights with the rights of anonymous speakers, and provides a clear road map for parties who have a legitimate need to learn the identity of anonymous online speakers. The opinion can be found at http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/A143680.PDF The case was briefed and argued for ZL by Kerr & Wagstaffe partner Michael von Loewenfeldt, who is certified as a specialist in Appellate Law by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization.
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