Small Napa County winery takes on Google in court for negative reviews

NAPA, Calif. (KGO) -- A small mom and pop winery in Napa County is taking on tech Giant Google for negative online reviews written by an online troll.

Layla Fanucci and her husband own and operate the small family-run Charter Oak Winery in St. Helena. For years, her business has enjoyed 5-star reviews on Google and other review sites.

But beginning about 6 months ago, Layla says the winery has been bombarded with not only negative reviews but lewd and bullying comments which appear to stem from the same person.

Layla reads from a giant stack of reviews she printed out as evidence.

"Worst wine ever...tasted rubbery. Tasted boxed."

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She points to another review she printed out to submit as evidence. "This one says my bottles of wine have the same finishing taste as..."

The comment is so inappropriate, it can't be repeated.

Layla's emails and messages to Google went unanswered for weeks, while between 30 and 50 harassing comments kept getting posted.

When Google did finally respond to her via email, the tech giant said the comments do not violate their review guidelines and suggested Layla "have a great day."

This is when Layla decided to take Google to court.

A judge ultimately decided to dismiss the case based on the tech company's request due to the fact the 3rd party, the online commenter was not present.

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"I'm disappointed because this is a problem for so many businesses...I had over 100 owners calling me about their similar situations...they're crying on the phone saying their business is ruined!"

The legal aid representing Google in small claims court refused to comment but suggested we contact Google's press department. We reached out but did not receive a response.

Layla plans to take Google to court as many times as possible, which is a maximum of 5 times in small claims court. She says she's doing it on behalf of all small business owners, who want their voices heard.

"You have to do what I did. You have to go to small claims court and hope the court will say this is a problem because these are people's livelihoods. These are people's businesses that these trolls are destroying."

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