In Florida, things just changed a bit for the better for lawyers. In the past, lawyers seemed to be at the mercy of anyone that wanted to write a negative online review of the lawyer. Such review can be very damaging to a lawyer, since the lawyers reputation is his primary asset and upon which most lawyers generate business.

In the case of Copia Blake and Peter Birzon v.Ann-Marie Giustibelli, P.A., and Ann-Marie Giustibelli,individually, the lawyer sued for damages due to false online reviews, and won a judgment of $350,000.00 in punative damages against the client for the false reviews.

The facts:

Giustibelli represented Blake in a divorce case against Birzon. Things deteriorated between Giustibelli and Blake, so Blake (and as the court noted "oddly, Birzon as well,") posted defamatory reviews of Giustibelli. Giustibelli sued for libel, as well as breach of contract.

Some of the offending statements:

"She misrepresented her fees with regards to the contract I initially signed. The contract she submitted to the courts for her fees were 4 times her original quote and pages of the original had been exchanged to support her claims…"

"No integrity. Will say one thing and do another. Her fees outweigh the truth."

"Altered her charges to 4 times the original quote with no explanation."

The client and her husband admitted they posted the reviews and "both admitted at trial that Giustibelli had not charged Blake four times more than what was quoted in the agreement.

Result: Giustibelli won, and got $350,000 in punitive damages.

Below if a link to the published court case.


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