“Free Speech” prevails as court dismissed $1 million defamation lawsuit over 1 star Yelp review!

01 September 2016 Internet, IT & e-Discovery Blog Blog
Author(s): Peter Vogel

The Dallas News reported that a lawsuit was “dismissed based on the Texas Anti-SLAPP statute, meant to allow judges to dismiss frivolous suits filed against people who speak out about a matter of public concern.”  The August 30, 2016 article entitled “$1M lawsuit dismissed against Plano couple who gave 1-star Yelp review to pet-sitting company” was in the case of Prestigious Pets v. Michelle and Robert Duchouquette and included these comments about the 1 star review:

The Duchouquettes hired Prestigious Pets in October 2015 to watch their two dogs and betta fish, Gordy, while they were on vacation, according to court documents.

In the Yelp review, the Duchouquettes said their betta fish’s tank looked murky in a video feed, the billing was messed up and the company tried to charge to return the keys to the family.

After the court ruling Prestigious Pets’ attorney made these comments:

The pets and this business mean everything to the company and its owner,…

They remain confident that Texas law supports enforcing their contract, including the non-disparagement clause, particularly given the proof presented that Prestigious Pets never agreed to care for the fish, was not paid or hired to care for the fish, and the fish was never harmed.

He said the company tried to resolve the issues before taking legal steps, but “it is unfortunate that those efforts were ignored in favor of the Defendants’ ongoing media campaign.”

This is an important case, and it will be interesting to see if there is an appeal and the outcome.

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