USA: defamation lawsuit against TripAdvisor dismissed

Michael Wukoschitz's picture

TripAdvisor.com provides information on various hotels, resorts and restaurants worldwide. Visitors to TripAdvisor's website can review these businesses by responding to surveys or post comments about their personal experiences. Based on these reviews, TripAdvisor compiles and publishes rankings, categorizing the businesses listed. In 2011 a ranking of "dirtiest hotels" identified the Grand Resort Hotel & Convention Center in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, as the "dirtiest hotel in America".

The propietor of the Grand Resort sued TripAdvisor for defamation and false light, arguing that TripAdvisor’s statements were likely to significantly damage his business.

However, in its Judgement of Aug. 22, 2012, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee recently granted TripAdvisor's  Motion to Dismiss the defamation lawsuit and held that a reasonable person would view TripAdvisor’s "dirtiest hotels" list as merely hyperbolic opinion or rhetorical exaggeration. Reasonable consumers would distinguish between the inherently subjective rankings and objectively verifiable facts.

Case Seaton v. TripAdvisor, LLC, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee No. 3:11-cv-549 (Phillips)

Full text of judgement available here>>.

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