Law Firm That Sued 20-Year-Old Crash Victim Over Negative Review Now Owes $26,831 In Legal Fees

from the stop-SLAPPing-yourself dept

After being insulted online by a 20-year-old student with back injuries resulting from a collision with a drunk driver, the Khuu law firm of Houston, Texas, claimed it "had no choice" but to burn its already-questionable reputation to the ground file a $100,000+ defamation lawsuit.

Like many other entities, the Khuu law firm felt the best response to a negative review was to get litigious. Unlike many other entities, the Khuu Law firm presumably employed actual lawyers with actual knowledge of actual laws. Presumably. If so, it overrode this knowledge to engage in litigation featuring the internet's favorite tort: "Yelp review I didn't like."

According to Lan Cai -- the student who had the misfortune of initiating contact with Khuu -- a representative from the office showed up at her house unannounced and questioned her while she was still in her underwear. Shortly after making a bad first impression, the company made a bad second impression by ghosting its new client. Lawyers at the firm only seemed interested in engaging with Cai when they had a lawsuit to serve.

Backlash ensued and the Popehat Signal was (unofficially) lit. Houston attorney Michael Fleming picked up Lan Cai's case pro bono and has now obtained an anti-SLAPP judgment in favor of his client. Joe Mullin of Ars Technica reports:

Fleming filed a motion arguing that, first and foremost, Cai's social media complaints were true. Second, she couldn't do much to damage the reputation of a firm that already had multiple poor reviews. He argued the lawsuit was a clear SLAPP (strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation). Like many states, Texas has a law allowing for SLAPP suits to be thrown out at early stages of litigation.

Ultimately, the judge agreed with Fleming, ordering [PDF] the Khuu firm to pay $26,831.55 in attorneys' fees.

The news of the firm's loss has resulted in a second wave of one-star reviews at Yelp -- one of those side effects litigious entities fail to consider before lunging forward with "might makes right" legal bullying. At this point, the Khuu law office is best known for:

(a) mistreating a potential client with a broken back, and

(b) losing a lawsuit.

Neither of these is going to help it attract new customers. If it had just left it alone, its reputation -- while never stellar -- wouldn't have been destroyed completely.


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2016 @ 8:55am

    lawyer joke of the year!

    "...claimed it "had no choice" but to burn its already-questionable reputation to the ground..."

    How does one burn a layers reputation to the ground, I was not aware they ever had one!
    ha ha hahaaaa!

    I would feel sorry for lawyers if they didn't suck so much fucking blood and add to the burdens of society instead of helping it!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    AricTheRed (profile), 7 Dec 2016 @ 9:11am

    when asked for their feelings about the results of litigation.

    "Oops..."

    - Khuu law firm

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Peter Orlowicz (profile), 7 Dec 2016 @ 9:34am

      Re: when asked for their feelings about the results of litigation.

      You assume the firm in question is capable of introspection and learning lessons. Just as likely would be a response of "We look forward to vindication on appeal" or "We're examining our options for suing the judge for defamation, given the damage his order does to our reputation."

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2016 @ 9:30am

    second wave of one-star reviews at Yelp

    Several dozen one-star reviews now, and somebody even posted a picture of Dick Butt.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2016 @ 9:41am

    and now they have several dozen bad reviews they can sue over.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    afn29129 (profile), 7 Dec 2016 @ 10:26am

    Slang.

    "..the company made a bad second impression by ghosting its new client."

    Blogger Tim makes a bad impression for using slang.
    What the heck does ghosting a client mean?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      TRX (profile), 7 Dec 2016 @ 10:59am

      Re: Slang.

      From hits on Google, one party of a contract or negotiation suddenly ignoring the other.

      Apparently more or less equivalent to "blowing off a client" in old-school slang.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Atkray (profile), 7 Dec 2016 @ 5:15pm

      Re: Slang.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        afn29129 (profile), 7 Dec 2016 @ 6:00pm

        Re: Re: Slang.

        I should of been more explicit. I was calling out Tim's
        use of slang. The point was directed at the author. Whatever that link was... Well I don't allow JavaScript to execute from mystery URL's so it was rendered as over-lapping text.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 8 Dec 2016 @ 12:13am

          Re: Re: Re: Slang.

          that's your fault

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 8 Dec 2016 @ 12:14am

          Re: Re: Re: Slang.

          lmgtfy.com is a sarcastic site, the name standing for "let me Google that for you". If you could allow the script to launch, you'd see an animation showing you how to Google the information you demanded, which usually takes less time than it takes to complain.

          In case you're unfamiliar with this site and author, this is an opinion blog rather than a journalism source, and Tim is known to use sarcastic humour on a regular basis to spice up his articles. I don't think somebody whining that they don't know the same slang as him is going to change his style.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    PaulT (profile), 8 Dec 2016 @ 12:23am

    Glad to see a decent result here, despite the victim blaming that was attempted in the original comment section.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Wyrm (profile), 8 Dec 2016 @ 9:12am

    reputation?

    If those guys - so-called lawyers - are so angry at the people destroying their reputation, they should start doing themselves. Or simply work a little towards earning a better reputation.

    Why is it that so many people nowadays feel entitled to respect and good reputation?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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