A Campton Township woman is being sued for more than $50,000 on allegations that her online review of a DeKalb business was defamatory, according to a complaint filed last month in Kane County.
According to the document, Erika Gannon Hughes published a statement on July 14, 2013, about Friendly Farms on Yelp.com that harmed the business’ reputation and ability to attract and retain customers.
“[Hughes] knew the publication was false or she lacked reasonable grounds to believe the statement was true,” the complaint states.
For the last 30 years, Friendly Farms, 15534 Somonauk Road, DeKalb, has furnished farm animals for petting zoos and pony rides for parties hosted by organizations and private citizens, according to the document dated June 25.
In her review, the complaint states, Hughes makes several claims against Friendly Farms. She wrote that the animals are severely abused, are underfed, have lice and parasites, and are overdue to have their hooves trimmed, the document indicates.
The complaint states she also makes claims against the ownership, who she described as “cruel, heartless and shady.” She also reportedly asked that people don’t support the business.
“They are in it for the [money] and nothing else,” Hughes is accused of writing.
Steven Vidmar – identified in the complaint as the current, sole owner of Friendly Farms – is also participating in the case as a plaintiff. The complaint describes Hughes’ allegation against him as “libelous on its face.”
A case management conference is set for 9 a.m. Sept. 11.