CHICAGO – A Chicago federal judge has shut down an attempt by an attorney to sue those who supposedly defamed him in online postings on Yelp and other forums.
U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber issued a seven-page ruling on Aug. 30 in the lawsuit filed by attorney David Freydin against Victoria Chamara, Tetiana Kravchuk, Anastasia Shmotolokha, Nadia Romenets, and John Does.
Freydin sued the defendants seeking damages and relief in regards to comments made online using platforms such as Facebook and Yelp, purportedly reviewing the services of his law firm.
Freydin's allegations against the defendants included counts for libel, false light, tortious interference with contractual relationship, tortious interference with prospective business relationship and civil conspiracy.
He stated in the ruling the comments were "salacious, false and libelous," giving "one-star ratings (out of five), despite, to Plaintiffs’ knowledge, not having any business-related contact with him."
Also stated in the decision, Freydin's complaint "does not state what Plaintiff allegedly did or said to set off the vituperative comments of the Defendants," although one post made by Freydin on his Facebook page was viewed as "derogatory" by the defendants, as it joked about "Ukrainian cleaning ladies."
Using the argument that, to prove defamation the plaintiff "must allege that defendant made a false statement that was published to third parties," Judge Leinenweber stated in his ruling that the defendants' comments "were obvious expressions of opinion and are therefore not actionable."
Leineweber also dismissed Freydin's claims of false light, stating the plaintiff failed to "allege the requisite special damages," which include damage to reputation and economic loss, necessary to support that claim.
In the counts of tortious relationships, Leinenweber said he determined Freydin merely alleged that "defendants’ wrongful conduct caused subsequent breaches of parties [sic] to which Plaintiffs were a party by third parties," and that he "had a reasonable expectation of entering into valid business relationships with third parties, including prospective clients and attorneys who Plaintiffs may have retained or contracted with to represent its clients,” deemed "insufficient" under the law, which requires damages to be proved.
For the civil conspiracy, Leinenweber stated that Freydin "has pled no properly published defamatory statement," and, as result, the plaintiff "has failed to allege an underlying tort to support a civil conspiracy."
U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Case number 17 C 8034