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Groups appealing order to remove online reviews

(AP) — Two groups are taking the case of a Virginia woman ordered to remove negative online reviews of a home contractor to the state’s highest court.

The Virginia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and Public Citizen said Wednesday that they filed papers in the Supreme Court of Virginia appealing a preliminary injunction issued in Fairfax County Circuit Court.

Jane Perez is being sued over comments she posted on the Internet regarding Dietz Development LLC, implying the contractor stole items from her home. The contractor is claiming the reviews posted on Yelp and Angie’s List were false and cost him $300,000 in business. He’s suing for defamation and is seeking $750,000.

Earlier this month, a judge ordered Perez to delete some accusations and barred her from repeating them in new posts while the lawsuit is pending.

The groups say the judge’s order is a violation of both the First Amendment and Virginia law.

“Such orders run afoul of the American tradition of free speech, which assumes that the public can sort out truth from fiction so long as both sides have the opportunity to have their say,” Paul Levy, an attorney with Public Citizen, said in a news release.

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