The Virginia Supreme Court reversed a preliminary injunction that stopped a Falls Church woman from accusing a contractor of stealing jewelry from her home on a popular consumer website.
Friday, the Commonwealth’s high court reversed the injunction ordered by Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Fortkort in December that forced Jane Perez to take down some of her comments on Yelp.com about Christopher Dietz.
Perez reportedly wrote angry reviews on Yelp and Angie’s List alleging Dietz, a contractor, stole jewelry from her home and caused about $15,000 in damages to her home.
“As we begin the New Year, the Supreme Court’s ruling is a great reminder of the importance of free speech in our society,” ACLU of Virginia Legal Director Rebecca Glenberg, who is representing Perez, said in a statement. “Dietz will still have the opportunity to try to prove in court that he was wronged by Perez’s speech, but the court cannot suppress her speech in the meantime.”
The Supreme Court’s ruling came two days after Public Citizen and the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia filed an appeal of the preliminary injunction on behalf of Perez, according to the release.
Perez posted reviews of Dietz Development on Yelp.com and Angie’sList.com, posting comments about issues she had with the contractor she hired to work on her home. Judge Fortkort ordered Perez to take down her description of how she discovered some jewelry missing when only Dietz Development had a key to the house. The judge also ordered Perez to remove language about the outcome of a suit for nonpayment brought against her by Dietz.
Dietz sued Perez for $1 million for defamation and asked the Judge Fortkort to order her to remove her posts and refrain from any further criticism while the lawsuit is pending, according to the release.
Keep up with Falls Church news and events with the Patch email newsletter. Learn more here!