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Will Colorado be the next state to adopt anti-SLAPP legislation?

If you are like many Colorado residents, one of the first things you do when deciding whether to give a company your business is to look for online reviews of the service that the company provides.

The Internet has made getting reviews from others extremely accessible, and this can be a great way to know what you are getting into before forking over your hard-earned cash. However, as business owners know, reviews are not always completely accurate, and the negative ones can cause business to take a major hit.

The owners of Footprints Floors of Centennial, Colorado, estimate that their business lost out on 167 projects and about $625,000 in revenue after a homeowner posted a very negative review on Yelp.com.

The review was posted after the flooring company installed close to 4,000 square feet of hardwood floors in the reviewer’s home that the homeowner was unhappy with. In fact, the homeowner was more than unhappy, and he made that very clear in the Yelp review.

After the homeowner failed to pay the flooring company for the labor and materials, the company filed a lawsuit against him. The company also sought damages for the financial losses it sustained as a result of the negative review.

The homeowner spoke out to the media, expressing outrage that the company was attempting to limit his free speech rights, and a state lawmaker said he is considering introducing anti-SLAPP legislation, which would protect consumers who post reviews that are critical of businesses.

If the law passes, Colorado would become the 29th state to implement such laws, which the lawmaker says are necessary to prevent businesses from censoring their customers.

Interestingly, the lawsuit that was filed by the flooring company against the homeowner ended up settling out of court for $15,000.

What do you think? Should Colorado implement anti-SLAPP legislation to better-protect free speech? Or do business owners have a right to censor unhappy customers who go too far?

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