For reasons that I cannot fathom, the Houston law firm of Tuan A. Khuu brought a libel suit against a 20 year old waitress named Lan Cai based on postings she made on YELP and Facebook. This is bound to end badly for the law firm.
Ms. Cai was involved in a collision with a drunk driver. The relationship with the firm got off to a rocky start and ended almost immediately. Thereafter, Ms. Cai posted on YELP that she “wouldn’t even give this law firm a star.” She was more expansive on Facebook:
“After 3 days, they didn’t tell me anything about the doctor I needed to go to. I was in a lot of pain. Not only that, they didn’t know where the hell my car was! And they came to my house and into my room to talk to me when I was sleeping I my underwear. Seriously it’s super unprofessional! . . . I came in to the office to meet with my previous attorney, but he literally ran off.”
The libel suit appears to be based primarily on the Facebook post. And while it’s not too flattering, it makes me wonder how it could be worth the aggravation of suing. On a non-legal basis, the suit just makes the firm look like huge bully. Maybe there’s a niche client base out there that thinks this is how aggressive lawyers do business. But I suspect a bigger demographic would be put off by this bullying.
The suit also puts the firm’s reputation at issue. And that may not be a good thing. Apparently, there’s plenty of other one star reviews from YELP – which begs the question whether Cai’s review had any marginal impact on the firm’s reputation. And in any event, the suit puts a spotlight on every bad review the firm has gotten.
Finally, Texas has adopted anti-SLAPP legislation. This allows a court to promptly dismiss a libel suit if it determines that the plaintiff filed it to stifle legitimate discussion of a matter of public interest. And it can award the defendant’s attorney’s fees if it rules in favor of the defendant. Ms. Cai has already asked the court for this relief.
Additionally, the story has gotten attention from any number of Internet trolls – many of whom have posted parody reviews of the firm on Reddit.
All in all, if law firm of Tuan Z. Khuu was worried about its reputation they needn’t worry anymore. They’ve pretty much ruined it.