After seeing the flurry of press coverage on this topic I thought I'd provide more information about Yelp's involvement with this case…
We first heard about the lawsuit from Michael Blacksburg (Chris Norberg’s attorney), who asked us to share our thoughts. After talking to him, we offered to mediate the dispute since we fundamentally believe in a reviewer’s right to comment fairly and truthfully about a business experience. Both sides were willing to talk through us, and both brought legitimate concerns to the table. Chris offered to re-write his review while still describing a negative experience, but allow Dr. Biegel to review and approve it before posting. Dr. Biegel ultimately refused, and proceeded with his lawsuit.
Assuming that Chris was honest in describing his experiences with Dr. Biegel, he would likely have prevailed in this case. In addition, we think that the very act of suing a patient over a review (in light of the many other positive reviews that Dr. Biegel receives on our site) is customer unfriendly and may affect his business going forward.
Today both parties returned to mediation as a final step before going to court and it appears they have settled their dispute. It is worth noting that in 4 years of operation no Yelp user has been successfully sued and such cases are extremely rare. If you're a Yelp user and ever get legally threatened please contact us at www.yelp.com/contact (select legal from the drop down).
Personally, I'm glad that we live in a country where freedom of expression is so well protected.