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Owner of ‘dirtiest hotel’ fails in bid to sue TripAdvisor

September 20, 2013 Headline News, Social Media No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59How easy is it to sue a travel review website over negative reviews or descriptions? Reports from the US suggest it is not easy at all.

The owner of a Tennessee hotel dubbed “America’s dirtiest” in a 2011 TripAdvisor list has failed in his second bid to sue the website.

Kenneth Seaton, owner of the Grand Resort Hotel and Convention Center inEGT_Artical Banner A 250x250 Pigeon Forge, Tennesee, has been told by a judge that he can’t sue TripAdvisor for defamation, the Boston Business Journal has reported.

Seaton had already been told that by another judge. Seaton appealed, and now an Appeals Court judge has told him the same thing.

Seaton attempted to sue TripAdvisor (which is based in Needham, Massachusetts) for USD 10 million. He claimed his reputation had been irreparably harmed by the “dirty” slur.

A US District Court judge in Tennessee ruled against him last year, however, on legal grounds, saying that TripAdvisor’s online list (based solely on user reviews and not verified by the company) simply does not fit the definition of defamation.

Seaton tried to appeal but an Appeals Court judge in Cincinnati has confirmed the  original ruling.

Justice Karen Nelson Moore wrote in her legal opinion that “Seaton failed to state a plausible claim for defamation because TripAdvisor’s ‘2011 Dirtiest Hotels’ list cannot reasonably be interpreted as stating, as an assertion of fact, that Grand Resort is the dirtiest hotel in America,” the Boston Business Journal reported.

The term “dirtiest” was “rhetorical hyperbole,” she wrote. “The general tenor of the ‘2011 Dirtiest Hotels’ list undermines any impression that TripAdvisor was seriously maintaining that Grand Resort is, in fact, the dirtiest hotel in the US.”

Though the hotel has reportedly closed, a listing for it remains on TripAdvisor’s website.

A quick check by Global Travel Media yesterday revealed that the hotel is indeed still listed on the TripAdvisor site, with 226 out of 321 reviewers rating the property as “terrible”.

Headlines included: “Dirty room; unsafe pool”;  “Absolute dump. Do not stay here,” and, alarmingly, “Dirtiest place on earth”.

Another user advised: “This location has closed,” adding: “I live in the area, the hotel closed 3 weeks ago. The workers was informed when they showed up for work and the doors was locked.”

Other hotels in Pigeon Forge (a city in America’s Great Smoky Mountains) also cop a serve. One writer described a room at another hotel in the city as “so filthy I refused to stay”.

Then again, there are always a handful of reviewers who say the same properties are enchanting and wonderful.

Written by : Peter Needham

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