The power of a compliment! For instance, it’s in the power of the four words, You look so beautiful or You are so handsome. Conversely, being told you are horrible… well, it’s just horrible!
That’s the story of the New York City lawyer who filed suit over a comment that was left about him, as a Google review. The anonymous comment simply said It was horrible. Tobias was concerned that this review would hurt his business. In his petition he stated:
The posting itself is, moreover, highly defamatory since the assertion that ‘it was horrible” (with absolutely no revelation of what the “it” was or might be) is not a mere statement of opinion but is instead one that on its face implies that it is based upon facts that justify the stated opinion, but which facts are left wholly unknown to those reading or hearing such an opinion. As such it is, under the axiomatic case law doctrine that is to be set forth in this Petition and in the accompanying papers, a plainly actionable “mixed opinion” that, additionally, serves to disparage a person in his profession, rendering it libelous.
Tobias filed suit, asking a judge to require Google to disclose the name of the person who left the “review”. Tobias suspected that the anonymous author had left the comment at the wrong location. A Donald Tobias had recently passed away under bad circumstances involving a train, and Lawyer Tobias suspected that “it was horrible” was actually directed at the event, not at him.
After the news of his lawsuit went viral, bad reviews starting piling up. One reviewer wrote, “never worked with him, but saw how he spends his time trying to uncover anonymous reviewers in order to sue them for libel. I would give 0 stars if I could”. These reviews just made it worse for Tobias.
The resolution of the lawsuit? When interviewed by the ABA Journal, Tobias advised that all the comments had been taken down. That he still believed that the original comment stemmed from the horrible event, and that he hoped that the comments would not return. The petition had been dismissed.
This reminds me of Proverbs 15:1 “A soft answer turneth away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger.” Horrible is probably grievous. Filing suit over horrible… stirred up anger!
And for pic o’ day, this is no reflection on my parents, but it does make me laugh!