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Petsitter Now Wants Up to $1M for Negative Yelp Review

First lawsuit dropped, second lawsuit asks for a lot more
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted May 5, 2016 2:34 PM CDT

(Newser) – The petsitting company suing a Texas couple over their negative Yelp review now wants even more money from the couple. As Consumerist reports, Prestigious Pets' original lawsuit, which sought less than $7,000, was quickly dropped—only to be replaced with this new suit, which seeks between $200,000 and $1 million. Prestigious Pets originally argued that Robert and Michelle Douchouquette violated a non-disparagement clause in the petsitting contract by posting the bad review, in which the couple complained about some of the company's policies and alleged the petsitter may have harmed their fish. The new suit still alleges the non-disparagement clause was violated, and adds two more claims: defamation and business disparagement.

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Prestigious Pets says the bad review and the ensuing bad publicity have led to threats and harassment and left the company a "shell of its former success," CBS DFW reports. "You’d think that what really damaged the reputation of the company was bringing the suit in the first place," says Paul Levy of Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy group representing the Douchouquettes pro bono. A warning that now pops up on Prestigious Pets' Yelp page reads, "You should know this business has issued legal threats and/or taken legal action against reviewers for exercising their free speech. If your review accurately describes your firsthand experience, you have a First Amendment right to express your opinion on Yelp." A court will soon determine whether the petsitters' lawsuit is frivolous, in which case the Douchouquettes could seek to have it dismissed. (This couple sued after a "disastrous" HGTV remodel.)

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