Monthly Archives: February 2014

Cyber-Defamation – Hot New Area Of Tort Liability – Court Orders Yelp To Reveal Anonymous Reviewers’ Identities

Cyber reviews on services such as Yelp have become an increasingly critical element to building a successful commercial enterprise.   While such reviews can provide a business a boost, according to the market research firm Gartner, one out of every ten online product reviews are “fake” posted by people who have been paid to write them.  Until recently, writing fake reviews has been a safe and low cost way for unscrupulous business owners to obtain an unfair and fraudulent advantage over their competitors.

This type of fraudulent practice is finally getting the attention of the courts and even law enforcement authorities. In late 2013, the New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman brought actions against 19 companies for doing fake reviews on sites like Yelp, Google Local and CitySearch.com.  The companies paid fines of up to $100,000 and signed agreements pledging to stop the practice.  The AG’s office set up a sting operation in which it posed as the owner of a yogurt shop and then answered ads from Search Engine Optimization companies offering to write reviews.  These companies were hiring free-lance writers from third world countries and Eastern Europe to write reviews for $1 to $10 per review. Continue reading

Chiropractic Malpractice Does not Qualify for Medical Malpractice 2 1/2 Year Statute of Limitations

In an important decision to those involved in the field of chiropractic malpractice, the First Department decided on February 6, 2014 in the case Perez v. Fitzgerald, that the 2½ statute of limitations for medical, dental and podiatric malpractice (CPLR 214-a) does not automatically apply to chiropractic malpractice actions.

Ms. Perez sued her chiropractor Fitzgerald, for failure to diagnose a tumor in her neck.  She had originally presented to him in May 2005 after a car accident complaining of neck pain.  He ordered an MRI and reviewed the radiologist’s report which indicated she had a number of herniated/bulging discs with no mention of a tumor. Continue reading

Empire State Building Sues Photographer over Topless Viral Photograph – Seeks Punitive Damages

After purchasing tickets to the Empire State Building (“ESB”) observatory deck, Allen Henson, a photographer, took cell phone photos of a topless model who accompanied him.  He later posted them to a social media site and they went “viral”.  They can be seen at:  http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/boobs-photog-hit-1-1m-suit-article-1.1578135.

In January 2014 Mr. Henson was served with a lawsuit by ESB seeking $100,000 in compensatory damages and $1 million punitive damages based on the legal theory than Henson’s cellphone photo shoot was “unlawful and tortious and caused ESB damage to its business and its reputation as a safe and secure family friendly tourist attraction.”  ESB claimed that Henson was guilty of tortious trespass. ESB did not name the model who appears to us to have had at least equal responsibility.  While it is understandable that ESB would not want topless women mixing with tourists unaccustomed to public nudity, ESB’s contention that Henson’s actions constituted a trespass are tenuous at best.

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Labor Law Claims Against Husband Dismissed but Allowed Against his Wife – Homeowner Exemption

 

In an unusual Labor Law case, Judge Billings dismissed a Labor Law §§240(1) and 241(6) claims against the owner of a one family dwelling, but granted the plaintiff’s motion to assert the same claims against the owner’s wife.  Plaintiff in Pizarro v. Lignelli, 102474/2011, NYLJ 1202641219115, at *1 (Sup. NY, Decided January 6, 2014) was injured while renovating defendant’s single family house.  Plaintiff also claimed violations of Labor Law §§200 and common law negligence.

Defendant moved for summary judgment based on the exemption under the Labor Law for owners of 1-2 family dwellings, when the owner contracts for, but does not supervise, direct, or control the construction to which the Labor Law applies.  In response, plaintiff cross-moved to add the same claims against defendant’s wife.

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