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Contractor sues Nexdoor over nasty, allegedly false comments he says cost him business

A home contractor who used to work in eastern Massachusetts yesterday sued Nextdoor for failing to quickly take down negative comments from a disgruntled customer that he says were false and cost him tens of thousands of dollars in lost business.

In his suit, filed in US District Court in Boston, Robert Duffer says despite a user contract prohibiting false and defamatory posts, a woman upset over his work on a fence kept posting negative comments about him - at one point vowing to keep doing so until he was driven out of business - and that Nextdoor took three weeks to finally remove them after both he and "an associate" had flagged the posts.

Duffer says that as a result of her campaign, and because Nextdoor was slow to finally remove her missives, he immediately lost four jobs worth a total of $18,000. He is suing for that amount, plus the $100,000 he says he earned from his contracting business, which relied heavily on Nextdoor ads, before he moved to Montana several months later.

Duffer alleges the problems began when a woman in his hometown hired him to install a fence in October, 2020.

Parts necessary to the installation were either missing or not the correct parts but the Nextdoor neighbor asked Mr. Duffer to install the fence anyway because the correct parts would not be available until March.

After the job was completed, the neighbor paid for the work and thanked Mr. Duffer for, "a job well done."

But then:

Approximately four weeks later, [the neighbor] went on Next Door and, contrary to her "job well done" provided a review which stated I did a
horrible job and not to use me. She followed up her statement with my name, business name, and number and gave recommendations of other contractors "better suited" to do the work."

These comments were followed by other negative comments concerning Mr. Duffer leading to a starkly negative comment on Nextdoor concerning Mr. Duffer. "I will
continue to bash and talk negatively about you so no one has to ever deal with you again and no one ever hires you again."

One of Duffer's two specific charges: Nextdoor violated the Massachusetts consumer-protection law that bans "false or deceptive advertising" because:

That the Defendant—in a contact of adhesion-- led the Plaintiff to believe that disparaging postings damaging his reputation on the Nextdoor website would, if reported, be removed from publication is both unfair and deceptive.

His other charge alleges negligence.

Duffer's court filing says he lived in Middlesex County, but does not specify which town.

Free tagging: 
PDF icon Complete complaint155.03 KB


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should be interesting. Moderators are members. They don't get paid, I am not sure how responsible they are. Nextdoor is famous for the overall anger level of posts. It seems like the customer defamed him.

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You say it seems like the customer defamed him, but I didn't see any actual examples of defaming (untrue) statements in the complaint. The linked PDF doesn't contain any examples of the alleged untrue statements. Is there another document with examples of what the customer said and evidence they are untrue?

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The complaint is against NextDoor for not removing the bad reviews.

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You say it seems like the customer defamed him, but I didn't see any actual examples of defaming (untrue) statements in the complaint. The linked PDF doesn't contain any examples of the alleged untrue statements. Is there another document with examples of what the customer said and evidence they are untrue?

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I hope this suit gets smacked down, fast.

If a contractor can sue for a negative review, even one they think is false, it basically means we can't have online review sites any more.

If a contractor doesn't like one of their reviews, they should work it out with the customer. I'd hope if they are a reputable contractor that they have enough positive reviews to counteract any aberrations.

I fail to see where Nextdoor engaged in false advertising by promising something they didn't do:
"We do not proactively moderate Content posted by members; however, we can remove Content posted by you, ... if you violate this Agreement or our other policies, or infringe intellectual property, or otherwise engage in behavior that we think harms a Nextdoor neighborhood." That's notice to people making posts that they could get taken down. Where does it say they promise to someone who complains about a negative review that it will get taken down within a certain time frame? Note that the complaint does not give specific dates.

Also, "PERFONAL JURISDICTION"? Someone needs to turn on a spell checker.

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It is one thing to post subjective opinions, but reviews that are dishonest should be addressed.

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Everyone knows all contractors are honest and never do shoddy work. .

This is exactly what Nextdoor is supposed to be for, looking out for your neighbors. If this lady had a bad experience with the guy she has every right to voice her opinion about it. If anything it sounds like this guy is trying to use his influence at Nextdoor (he advertises there) to quiet critics and suppress free speech.

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industry often based in deceit. maybe the 'good apples' can start their own platform for getting reviewed. if not, THEN FUCKING LET ONLY THE STRONG SURVIVE. this industry habitually and "structurally" abuses the public and we usually turn a blind eye. FACT.

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Good. Nextdoor is the most phony closet racist website full of people who have become robots and don't know how to interact in person with each other.

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I stopped participating in a JP neighborhood Facebook group because group think became the rule. Dare to express an opinion outside the acceptable belief, no matter how minor the difference? Put on your armor.

Nextdoor turning to the same. A person complains about too much noise in from of their home and they are roundly condemned.

Eric Blair's observations were disturbingly spot on. Left or right, conservative or liberal, no one is immune from group think or mob mentality.

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JP just isn't as neighborly as it used to be.

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"despite [sic] a user contract prohibiting false and defamatory posts, "

OK, we need to make it illegal for a contract to prohibit consumers from posting negative reviews as long as they are true.

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Turn the courts into a tool for harassment. Desperate Don is not the first to use law to wear down opponents. Hell, equity laws are designed to favor the wealthiest. But he has made the most of that weakness of our judicial system. Maybe his name will ultimately be connected to only 2 things. A failed insurrection and using a weak civil judicial system to scam anyone who ever did work for him.

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My (admittedly limited) understanding of how courts have interpreted Section 230 of the communications decency act initially suggests that Nextdoor is in the clear here, but this case may be exploring the edges, on the theory that the more you moderate, the more you are responsible for content.

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