Monday, March 28, 2011
The internet turns everyone into a potential critic and makes every business and service subject to the vagaries of consumer complaints. Law firms are no different as the story below, courtesy of the Texas Lawyer, makes clear.
A small Texas firm, Weston & Associates, is suing a former paralegal who left negative feedback on Citysearch.com which has allegedly cost the firm significant reputational and economic harm.
Bellaire lawyer Michael W. Weston and his firm, Weston & Associates, have filed a defamation suit alleging a 'false review' about the firm was posted online on Citysearch.com. They seek more than $1.25 million in damages.
Weston and his firm are suing a paralegal who formerly worked at Weston & Associates and a man who has her same last name. The plaintiffs allege in the petition — filed March 3 in Harris County's 133rd District Court — that the Nov. 22, 2010, 'fraudulent posting' on Citysearch.com was accessible through a Google search. The further allege the review resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars of lost business, because it was 'made public to thousands of potential clients since Nov. 22, 2010.' [See the petition.]
As alleged in the complaint, the "fake" review states:
'I went to this attorney on the recommendation of a friend. He had used the father for a bankruptcy. I would be using the son to help with debt settlement. I found him to be condescending to my situation and cold in demeanor. If you are looking for a factory that turns out debt settlements then this attorney is for you. If you want someone to answer your questions and help you through a hard time in your life then find another firm!!!!!!!'
Weston said he only recently found the negative review after doing a Google search for his firm. He said that his stomach dropped when he realized that the review had been online for several months resulting in an unknown quantum of negative publicity.
This is undoubtedly a situation that firms will face with increasing frequency moving forward. You can read the rest of the story here.
Hat tip to the ABA Journal.