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Staten Island Woman Gets Fined $1000 For Her Yelp Review – Does She Deserve It?

Ever had a really bad experience somewhere and wrote an angry review on Yelp when you got home? It’s ok. Admit it. Most of us probably did. And you know what – that’s ok. It’s actually a good thing. If you had a bad experience – statistics say that so did a handful of other people – and you’re pointing that out. You’re letting the business know what they need to work on and improve, and you’re letting your fellow man know what to be on the lookout for. However did you ever think that you could end up shelling out $1000 for your negative review?

When Emily Fanielli had her floors ruined by Mr. Sandless she not only filed a lawsuit against the company (which she won), but according to most news sources here she also went out and wrote a negative review on their Yelp page warning anyone else from using their services. Here’s what she wrote, quoting from the embedded ABC7 News clip here.

Don’t do business with Matt Gardnier of Staten Island. He is a con artist. He robs people for their money. He destroys their floors and he doesn’t come back to you.

So Matt Gardnier counter-sued her claiming a defamation of character and … won. And now everyone is upset. And that’s where the media ends, BUT – if we do a little bit of research some more things come up. Let’s look at the write up over at Justia.

On March 4, 2015 identified as “Emily” she (Emily Fanielli) posted the following “review” on silive (presented below as it appeared on the website):

this matt the owner is a scam

do not use mr sand less of staten island matt is the name he will destroy you floor he is a liar and con artist beware

On March 4, 2015 a similar review by “Emily F.” was posted on Yelp (presented below as it appeared on the website).

this guy mat the owner is a scam do not use him you will regret doing business with this company I’m going to court he is a scam customers please beware he will destroy your floors he is nothing by a liar he robs customers and promises you everything if you want shit then go with him if you like nice work find another he is A SCAM LIAR BULLSHITTER

So things are a bit worse off than just posting a well written negative review – and I’m starting to see where Matt was starting to feel some defamation of his personal character taking place. Let’s keep going though.

On March 4, 2015, defendant filed her small claims action in Civil Court (SCRNo.172/15) seeking $3,700.00 in damages for defective repairs.

On March 20, 2015, “Emily F.” posted an “updated review” on Yelp (presented below as it appeared on the website).

this is a night mare of a company you can not imagine what my floors look like stay away from matt gardiner your floors start to crack the stuff comes off the floors are left with no shine i had beautify shine before matt came to my house believe me if you want to see matts work and you rare thinking of hiring him contact me per my email and i will gladly show his work here is my e email address it is [email protected] i would show you his terrible work you would thank me please advise any now who is thinking of wiring with him stay away he is the island biggest scam person around, DO NOT HAVE YOUR FLOORS DONE WITH THIS MAN, CUSTOMERS PLEASE BE WARE OF THIS MAN MATT GARDINER HE IS A SCAM HE TAKES YOUR MONEY AND DESTROYS YOUR HOME

he des not even deserve a one star 0 stars he gets

So here we are now. A woman that has been fined $1000 for excessively posting online reviews in a defamatory matter; and a business owner who is being personally called out online and who, thanks to some rather false reporting, has his business ruined. There’s a clear difference between posting a negative review that explains why your experience was bad and provides actual proof, and just calling out someone by name all over the Internet. Maybe Matt did do a bad job. Maybe Matt’s team did a bad job. Regardless of the fact a simple, well written, fact-supported online review would have been enough – especially when the court determined that Matt did actually send a team to resolve any issues that Emily had and that the original law suit was won on a technicality with Matt’s licensing.

Repeatedly bringing up someone by name, over and over again, in such a fashion as displayed above just doesn’t seem right and I feel like there’s alot to this story that we don’t really know. However judging purely from what we and the courts know – I feel like the $1000 fine is well deserved here.

Also a quick note to the media that did a rather half-assed job at reporting the full story here – do some research before you just throw news articles out there.

As for everyone else, I urge you all to read through the write up of this matter over at Justia and make your own opinions regarding this matter.

About Michael Boguslavskiy

Michael Boguslavskiy is a full-stack developer & online presence consultant based out of New York City. He's been offering freelance marketing & development services for over a decade. He currently manages Rapid Purple - and online webmaster resources center; and Media Explode - a full service marketing agency.

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