The Volokh Conspiracy

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"Provably False" to Call Club Owner "Tragically Pathetic"?

Quite a libel lawsuit here ....


The Drake is apparently "an upscale, stylish jazz supper club" in Laguna Beach, "known for its award-winning chef and highly professional live music." Defendant allegedly posted the following review (according to plaintiff, motivated by plaintiff's earlier successful lawsuit against defendant, unrelated to the club):

Great concept but poorly executed. Egotistical condescending attitude from what appeared to be the owner whose some old dude who was strutting around like a pompous jerk who thinks that he's cool. Tragically pathetic. Food was ok but way overpriced. The singer was straight out of the wedding & Bar Mitzvah scene.

Plaintiff sued (Glasser & The Drake in Laguna, LLC v. Berzner (C.D. Cal.), just removed to federal court today), arguing among other things that,

[The statements in the review] are provably false …: 1. At no time did Glasser display an "egotistical[,] condescending attitude." 2. At no time was Glasser "strutting around like a pompous jerk who thinks he's cool." 3. At no time did Glasser display any behavior that was "pathetic." 4. In fact, at no time did Defendant even see Glasser that evening at The Drake except very briefly when Defendant was asked to leave because of his inappropriate conduct.

Not sure how these statements are provably false, as opposed to obvious opinion. Oh, and as a result of this one review, out of 171 (which amount to an impressive 4½-star average), the Complaint alleges,

Glasser has suffered loss of his reputation, shame, mortification, and hurt feelings all to his general damage,

to the tune of "general damages in the amount of $200,000," not even counting punitive damages.