The world of online reviews can be a contentious space with complaints and grievances filling up web pages and discussion boards.
Now, an Oregon man’s dispute about a custom-built home has sparked a lawsuit over what consumers can post online and how businesses can protect their reputations.
Adair Homes is suing Wes Brooks for defamation after he posted critical comments about the Vancouver-based company on Facebook. The lawsuit demands $550,000 in damages, claiming Adair Homes lost prospective sales because of the negative online reviews. Additionally, Adair Homes wants Brooks to shut down his public Facebook group, “Quality of Adair Homes.”
Despite the ongoing legal battle, the Facebook page is still up and running.
Wes Brooks hired Adair Homes to build a new house on his rural property outside of Pendleton in late 2017. A fire destroyed his old home.
Brooks was excited about moving his family into a larger, modern home. His wife, Ashley is pregnant.
“We went to Adair hoping they could help us with our dream,” explained Brooks.
Brooks said right away, there were problems with construction and unmet promises.
“This has been a nightmare, not a dream,” said Brooks. “There’s nothing dreamy about this process that we went through. This company has made everything difficult.”
For months, Brooks squabbled with Adair Homes over some of the work done on his home. He wasn’t happy with the workmanship or construction.
Adair claims the project passed final building inspection and Brooks still owes the company roughly $175,000 for its work. The two sides are currently in arbitration over the financial dispute.
Brooks decided to share his frustration online. In February, he created a public Facebook group called “Quality of Adair Homes,” which included comments, photos and video of his home. More than 250 people have since joined the Facebook group. Several customers shared their own experiences with Adair Homes.
“I felt there were probably other people out there that had the same situation happen to them,” said Brooks. “I thought it was time to create some kind of group to discuss these issues and see what could be done about them.”
Adair Homes disagreed with some of the comments Brooks posted on the Facebook group. In March, Adair Homes filed a lawsuit against Brooks in Umatilla Circuit Court. The complaint alleged the Facebook group contains false and defamatory statements.
The company further claimed it lost two sales and suffered damages totaling $550,000. The suit asks that Brooks to remove or delete the Facebook group.
“We absolutely believe in and support the right of customers to have opinions and to express
The question is, is it worth the fight knowing that a big-money lawsuit cold draw much more, unwanted attention to a single critic in rural eastern Oregon?