Wednesday, August 28, 2013

America's dirtiest Hotel loses defamation lawsuit

The owner of a hotel in Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains that had the dubious honor of topping TripAdvisor’s 2011 list of the United States’ dirtiest hotels cannot sue the travel website operator for defamation, a federal appeals court said.

Kenneth Seaton complained in a $10-million (U.S.) lawsuit that the ranking for his Grand Resort Hotel and Convention Center in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., which travel website TripAdvisor said was based on traveller ratings for cleanliness, was a product of a flawed rating system dependent on “unsubstantiated rumours,” and was intended to irreparably damage his business and reputation.
Wednesday’s decision upheld an August, 2012, ruling by U.S. District Judge Thomas Phillips in Knoxville, Tenn. It also upheld Phillips’ refusal to let Seaton add claims of trade libel and interference with prospective business.

The Grand Resort closed in November and was sold, according to published reports, but remains on TripAdvisor’s website. Of the 321 reviews, 265 rated the hotel “poor” or “terrible.”