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Hassell v. Bird

Court of Appeal of California, First Appellate District, Division Four

June 7, 2016, Opinion Filed



 [**207]  [*1341]   RUVOLO, P. J.


Respondents Dawn Hassell and the Hassell  [**208]  Law Group (Hassell)1 obtained a judgment holding defendant Ava Bird liable for defamation and requiring her to remove defamatory reviews she posted about Hassell on, a Web site owned by appellant Yelp, Inc. (Yelp). The judgment also contains an order requiring Yelp to remove Bird's defamatory reviews from its Web site (the removal order). Yelp, who was not a party in the defamation action, filed a motion to vacate the judgment which the trial court denied.

On appeal, the parties raise numerous issues relating to the judgment against Bird, and the subsequent removal order. As to those issues, we conclude as follows: (1) Yelp is not “aggrieved” by the defamation judgment entered against [***2]  Bird, but it is “aggrieved” by the removal order; (2) Yelp's trial court motion to vacate was not cognizable under Code of Civil Procedure section 663;2 (3) Yelp has standing to challenge the validity of the removal order as an “aggrieved party,” having brought a nonstatutory motion to vacate that order; (4) Yelp's due process rights were not violated because of its lack of prior notice and a hearing on the removal order request; (5) the removal order does not violate Yelp's First Amendment rights to the extent that it requires Yelp to remove Bird's defamatory reviews; (6) to the extent it purports to cover statements other than Bird's defamatory reviews, the removal order is an overbroad unconstitutional prior restraint on speech; and (7) Yelp's immunity from suit under the Communications Decency Act of 1996 (the CDA), 47 United States Code section 230, does not extend to the removal order.

Therefore, although we affirm the order denying Yelp's motion to vacate the judgment, we will remand this case so that the trial court can narrow the terms of the removal order in a manner consistent with this decision.

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247 Cal. App. 4th 1336 *; 203 Cal. Rptr. 3d 203 **; 2016 Cal. App. LEXIS 451 ***; 44 Media L. Rep. 1909

DAWN HASSELL et al., Plaintiffs and Respondents, v. AVA BIRD, Defendant; YELP, INC., Objector and Appellant.

Notice: THE SUPREME COURT OF CALIFORNIA GRANTED REVIEW IN THIS MATTER (see Cal. Rules of Court, rules 8.1105(e)(1)(B), 8.1115(e)) September 21, 2016, S235968.

Subsequent History: Time for Granting or Denying Review Extended Hassell v. Bird, 2016 Cal. LEXIS 10330 (Cal., Sept. 14, 2016)

Review granted by Hassell v. Bird, 208 Cal. Rptr. 3d 284, 381 P.3d 231, 2016 Cal. LEXIS 7914 (Cal., Sept. 21, 2016)

Request granted Hassell v. Bird, 2016 Cal. LEXIS 8407 (Cal., Oct. 12, 2016)

Request granted Hassell v. Bird; Yelp, Inc., 2016 Cal. LEXIS 10250 (Cal., Dec. 5, 2016)

Request granted Hassell v. Bird, 2017 Cal. LEXIS 1418 (Cal., Feb. 14, 2017)

Request granted Hassell v. Bird, 2017 Cal. LEXIS 3505 (Cal., May 3, 2017)

Request granted Hassell v. Bird, 2017 Cal. LEXIS 3513 (Cal., May 3, 2017)

Request denied by Hassell v. Bird, 2017 Cal. LEXIS 3349 (Cal., May 10, 2017)

Request granted Hassell v. Bird; Yelp, Inc., 2017 Cal. LEXIS 4815 (Cal., June 15, 2017)

Motion denied by, Request denied by Hassell v. Bird, Yelp, Inc., 2018 Cal. LEXIS 2331 (Cal., Mar. 29, 2018)

Reversed by, in part, Remanded by Hassell v. Bird, 2018 Cal. LEXIS 4704 (Cal., July 2, 2018)

Prior History:  [***1] Superior Court of San Francisco City & County, No. CGC-13-530525, Donald J. Sullivan, Judge.


Hassell, injunction, defamatory, removal order, trial court, motion to vacate, posted, nonparty, Internet, aggrieved, vacate, defamation, notice, injunctive relief, site, void, immunity, damages, third party, enjoined, rights, contends, cases, user, defamatory statement, prior restraint, circumstances, interactive, publisher, contempt

Civil Procedure, Pretrial Judgments, Default & Default Judgments, Default Judgments, Appeals, Reviewability of Lower Court Decisions, Preliminary Considerations, Justiciability, Standing, Appellate Jurisdiction, State Court Review, Judgments, Relief From Judgments, Vacation of Judgments, Void Judgments, Constitutional Law, Fundamental Freedoms, Judicial & Legislative Restraints, Prior Restraint, Remedies, Injunctions, Freedom of Speech, Defamation, Scope, Business & Corporate Compliance, Computer & Internet Law, Content Regulation, Communications Decency Act, Torts, Defamation