The Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled that a Minneapolis attorney cannot sue for defamation over a negative online review that said, “[the attorney] need[s] to go back to law school.” The appeals court ruled against the attorney, a part-time conciliation court referee in the Hennepin County District Court.
The appeals court said the sentence, “Need to go back to law school,” is “pure opinion” that isn’t defamatory.
“The offending statement is vague—it does not indicate whether [the attorney], some other member of his law firm or the law firm itself ‘need to go back to law school,’” the appeals court said. “And the statement is not verifiable. It does not suggest any facts against which the need to return to law school could be judged, suggesting to readers that the statement cannot be proven true or false,” according to the opinion. “Finally, [the] posted derogatory statement in the review section of a website that is a repository for opinions about businesses. The forum for and context of the posting are reasonably understood by readers to express opinions rather than factual statements.”
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