Law Firm Sues Over Negative Online Review; Gets What It Deserves

Twenty-year-old Richmond, Tex., waitress Lan Cai was half asleep in her own bed when her newly hired auto-accident lawyers from Houston’s Tuan A. Khuu & Associates came walking into her bedroom. And the relationship only went downhill from there.

Cai, who’d recently been in a serious car accident, took to Facebook to complain about the firm, calling them “super unprofessional” and saying she couldn’t get basic information from them.  She also wrote a negative review on Yelp.

When Tuan A. Khuu attorney Keith Nguyen saw the post, according to Houston Press, he immediately sent Cai an email, saying, “It has come to my attention that you have posted some dispariging [sic] words on your Facebook account. … If you do not remove the post from Facebook and any other social media sites, my office will have no choice but to file suit.”

When she failed to remove the post, the firm made good on its promise, suing her in July for defamation and seeking damages of up to $200,000. “I feel like they’re trying to pull every single penny out of me,” Cai said at the time, “just because I didn’t want to be their client.”

When Houston attorney Michael Fleming heard about the case, he saw it as “a bully’s attempt to silence unfavorable criticism on the Internet,” Houston Press reported.  Her took on her defense pro bono and filed a motion to dismiss, arguing both that Cai’s statements were truthful and that the lawsuit should be thrown out under the Texas anti-SLAPP statute.

Now, the judge overseeing the case has sided with Cai, Ars Technica reports. The judge entered an order Nov. 21 dismissing the lawsuit and ordering the Khuu law firm to pay Cai attorneys’ fees of $26,831.55.

The moral of the story should be clear: Don’t ever even think about suing a former client over a negative review. I promise you, it won’t turn out well.

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  • That’s great that Lan Cai got her attorneys’ fee paid. But like perhaps all anti-SLAPP statutes, Texas apparently fails to provide victims of SLAPP suits with any damages. The only people who get paid are the attorneys. While $26,831.55 is a lot of money for most people, it’s no where near enough to deter deep-pocketed filers of SLAPP suits. In fact, for many filers of SLAPP suits, it’s simply the cost of doing business.

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