UPDATE: On January 22, 2019, the Supreme Court denied review of the California Supreme Court decision.
In a closely-followed dispute, the California Supreme Court vacated a lower court order, based upon a default judgment in a defamation action, which had directed Yelp, Inc. (“Yelp”), a non-party to the original suit, to take down certain consumer reviews posted on its site. (Hassell v. Bird, No. S235968, 2018 WL 3213933 (Cal. July 2, 2018)). If the plaintiffs had included Yelp as a defendant in the original suit, such a suit would have likely been barred by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (“CDA” or “CDA Section 230”); instead, the plaintiffs adopted a litigation strategy to bypass such legal immunities. In refusing to allow plaintiff’s “creative pleading” to avoid the CDA, the outcome was a win for online companies and platforms that host user-generated content (“A Case for the Internet,” declared Yelp).