Astroturf Update: State sues hotel for punishing guests for bad reviews!

22 December 2017 Internet, IT & e-Discovery Blog Blog
Author(s): Peter Vogel

The state of Indiana sued a hotel which “maintained a written policy stating if a consumer made any negative statement, including an online comment or review, regarding their stay at Abbey Inn & Suites, the Defendants would charge the consumer an additional $350.00 and pursue legal action against the consumer.”  The case of the State of Indiana v. Abbey Management Inc. was filed for injunctive relief, civil penalties, and costs which was reported in the Washington Post on December 20, 2017 in article entitled “A hotel punished guests for bad reviews with a $350 charge. It’s now being sued by the state” and included these postings from a former customer:

Smelt like sewer,

The air conditioning didn’t work, either.

We started checking the sheets and the bed, I found hairs, dirt.

A month later the customer reported:

…she got a letter from a man named Andrew Szakaly. The state’s lawsuit says he described himself as the hotel’s attorney, when he was in fact its owner and operator. The letter claimed that Arthur’s review was false and had caused “irreparable injury” to the Abbey, and it said that Szakaly would sue for libel unless Arthur took it down.

This lawsuit may change the power of online Terms of Service, or at least at hotels who don’t like customer reviews!

This blog is made available by Foley & Lardner LLP (“Foley” or “the Firm”) for informational purposes only. It is not meant to convey the Firm’s legal position on behalf of any client, nor is it intended to convey specific legal advice. Any opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Foley & Lardner LLP, its partners, or its clients. Accordingly, do not act upon this information without seeking counsel from a licensed attorney. This blog is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. Communicating with Foley through this website by email, blog post, or otherwise, does not create an attorney-client relationship for any legal matter. Therefore, any communication or material you transmit to Foley through this blog, whether by email, blog post or any other manner, will not be treated as confidential or proprietary. The information on this blog is published “AS IS” and is not guaranteed to be complete, accurate, and or up-to-date. Foley makes no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, as to the operation or content of the site. Foley expressly disclaims all other guarantees, warranties, conditions and representations of any kind, either express or implied, whether arising under any statute, law, commercial use or otherwise, including implied warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Foley or any of its partners, officers, employees, agents or affiliates be liable, directly or indirectly, under any theory of law (contract, tort, negligence or otherwise), to you or anyone else, for any claims, losses or damages, direct, indirect special, incidental, punitive or consequential, resulting from or occasioned by the creation, use of or reliance on this site (including information and other content) or any third party websites or the information, resources or material accessed through any such websites. In some jurisdictions, the contents of this blog may be considered Attorney Advertising. If applicable, please note that prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Photographs are for dramatization purposes only and may include models. Likenesses do not necessarily imply current client, partnership or employee status.


Related Services