No Defense Against Yelp Post, Attorney Says

     SACRAMENTO (CN) - A Sacramento attorney claims in court that he was defamed in a Yelp review of his law office posted by someone he never saw or did business with.
     Attorneys United Professional Corporation aka Hughes Financial Law sued Shaan D. on July 21 in Superior Court.
     Yelp is not a party to the case.
     Yelp permits anyone to publish a review on its social networking, user review and local search website, yelp.com, which claims approximately 54 million unique visitors. Visitors to the site can publish reviews concerning their experiences with a business or read about other people's experiences.
     Shaan D., whose identity is unknown, posted comments about attorney C. Anthony Hughes on Yelp on Nov. 3, 2013, the lawsuit states.
     In that review, Shaan D. "claimed to have visited plaintiff's office for a legal consultation and was subjected to unwanted advances by Mr. Hughes. The review, in part, stated 'Anthony hughes (sic) is a nightmare bankruptcy attorney in Sacramento. . . be careful who you choose to ask for help, diffinately (sic) not Anthony hughes (sic)'," according to the complaint.
     Hughes says the review disparaged his character and cast his law practice in a negative light. He says the comments are false and that his records show that no one by the name of Shaan D. ever visited his offices or consulted with him at any time.
     Hughes says he unsuccessfully tried to work with Yelp to get the "patently false" review removed from the website. He says Yelp refused to remove the review or provide contact information for Shaan D.
     "The Shaan D review is libelous on its face. It clearly exposes plaintiff to hatred, contempt and ridicule because it charges plaintiff's employee, Mr. Hughes, with unethical conduct and attempts to steer potential clients away" from the law firm, the complaint states.
     The review has been and can be viewed by countless Internet users searching Yelp for bankruptcy attorneys, the complaint states.
     "Of those who read the review, at least 12 viewers noted that it was helpful to them - an indication that those 12 viewers (and undoubtedly countless others) did not even contact plaintiff about their legal concerns, causing plaintiff to lose the opportunity to serve those clients." (Parentheses in complaint.)
     The law firm seeks punitive damages.
     It is represented by Judith Whitman.