Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

DiNapoli v. Yelp Inc.

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

January 15, 2019

ARIAN DINAPOLI, d/b/a ARI FAMILY DENTAL, Plaintiff,
v.
YELP INC., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS AND MOTION TO STRIKE

          F. Dennis Saylor, IV United States District Judge.

         This is a case arising out of a dispute between Arian DiNapoli, a Boston dentist, and Yelp Inc., which provides a platform for customer reviews of local businesses and service providers. Jurisdiction is based on diversity of citizenship.

         According to the complaint, Yelp manipulated the reviews of DiNapoli on its website to retaliate against him when he refused to purchase advertising from it. DiNapoli, who has changed lawyers, now seeks to dismiss the lawsuit voluntarily. Instead of agreeing to a voluntary dismissal, Yelp has filed a combined “special motion to dismiss and strike” the complaint under California's anti-SLAPP statute, Cal. Civ. Proc. Code, § 425.16. In substance, Yelp is seeking its attorney's fees and costs under the statute. For the following reasons, the motion for voluntary dismissal will be granted and the motion to strike under California law will be denied.

         I. Background

         A. Factual Background

         The facts appear as alleged in the amended complaint unless otherwise noted.

         Arian DiNapoli is a resident of Massachusetts. He operates a dental practice called “Ari Family Dental” in West Roxbury, Massachusetts. (Am. Compl. ¶ 1).

         Yelp Inc. is a Delaware corporation with a principal place of business in San Francisco, California. Yelp operates a website where consumers can post reviews of businesses and services. (Am. Compl. 4, 6).

         On September 15, 2015, DiNapoli performed an emergency dental surgery on an unnamed patient. (Am. Compl. ¶ 9). DiNapoli contends that the patient called him on January 29, 2016, and requested a falsified tax receipt. DiNapoli refused. Later that day, the patient allegedly posted a negative review of DiNapoli's business on Ari Family Dental's Yelp page. (Am. Compl. ¶ 10, 11). Yelp categorized the review as “unreliable.” (Am. Compl. ¶ 12, 13).

         Between March 2016 and January 2017, Yelp attempted four times to sell advertising space on its website to DiNapoli. (Am. Compl. ¶ 14, 16, 18, 20). Each time, DiNapoli declined. (Am. Compl. ¶ 15, 17, 19, 21). Soon after DiNapoli's last refusal, in January 2017, Yelp allegedly changed the January 2016 negative review from “unreliable” to “reliable.” Doing so apparently caused the negative review to “replac[e]” positive reviews that had until then appeared on DiNapoli's page. (Am. Compl. ¶ 23).

         DiNapoli contacted Yelp and provided evidence that he contended showed the negative review was false. (Am. Compl. ¶ 27). Yelp kept the review listed as “reliable.” Furthermore, in alleged retaliation for DiNapoli's refusal to purchase advertising space, it posted advertisements for competing dental practices directly next to the negative review on DiNapoli's page. (Am. Compl. ¶ 28, 29). In addition, Yelp allegedly “mischaracterized” five positive reviews on DiNapoli's page as “unreliable.” (Am. Compl. ¶ 24).

         B. Procedural History

         On March 22, 2018, DiNapoli filed suit against Yelp in Massachusetts state court. The complaint asserted two counts, one for a violation of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A, § 11 and one for “Negligent Mode of Operation.” Yelp removed the action to this court on April 23, 2018.

         On April 30, 2018, Yelp filed a combined special motion to dismiss and strike the complaint pursuant to the California anti-SLAPP statute, Cal. Civ. Proc. Code, § 425.16. On the same day, DiNapoli filed an amended complaint that added a third count-a claim that Yelp had “intentional[ly] interfere[d] with business and/or contractual relationships.” Yelp then filed a new combined ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.