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Law Firm's Suit Over Bad Yelp Review Backfires

Judge tosses libel lawsuit, orders firm to pay woman's attorney fees
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 3, 2016 10:05 AM CST
Yelper Defeats Bad Law Firm's Bad Lawsuit
   (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File)

"I'm just proud of this young lady," attorney Michael Fleming tells the Houston Press. "She stood up to them, she did the right thing, and she was successful." Last summer, 20-year-old Houston resident Lan Cai was hit by a drunk driver, breaking two bones in her back. She hired the Law Offices of Tuan A. Khuu and Associates to help her figure out her insurance and damages, Ars Technica reports. But she says the law firm was less than satisfactory. According to the Houston Chronicle, Cai says they ignored her phone calls and emails, put a lien on her insurance, and even came into her bedroom while she was sleeping in her underwear ("super unprofessional!"). As a result, she left some bad reviews on Yelp and Facebook.

Khuu attorney Keith Nguyen sued Cai for libel after she refused to take down the bad reviews, seeking up to $200,000 from a student working six nights a week to put herself through nursing school. "She needs to learn...that there are consequences," Nguyen told the Press. And perhaps Khuu attorneys need to learn that there are anti-SLAPP laws in Texas. These laws protect consumers from businesses angry about online reviews. A judge threw out the libel lawsuit this week after Fleming, working pro bono for Cai, successfully argued that Cai's negative reviews couldn't be proven false and that the Khuu law firm wouldn't be hurt by them because they already have plenty of other negative reviews. The judge also ordered the law firm to pay Cai's attorney fees of $27,000. (An Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt star left an irate Yelp review.)

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