Michael P. Fleming is happy he and his firm were able to successfully defend a young woman who was sued by a law firm after she posted a review of their services on Yelp and Facebook.
As reported by the Houston Press and Houston Chronicle, Lan Cai, a 20 year old waitress and student, hired a Houston law firm for a personal injury case after a car accident. After terminating the firm a few days later, Lan posted reviews on Yelp and Facebook which prompted a demand from a lawyer with the firm that the reviews be deleted or she would be sued.
Lan stood by her principals, refused to curtail her free speech rights and was sued by the firm for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Michael P. Fleming along with Audrey Manito agreed to represent Lan in defending the defamation case and immediately asked the judge to dismiss the case under the relatively new Texas statute known as the Texas Citizens Participation Act.
In dismissing the lawsuit, the judge also ordered the law firm to pay defense counsel almost $27,000.00 in attorneys’ fees for defending the case.
The Texas Citizens Participation Act, like similar statutes enacted in many other states, is known as an Anti-SLAPP law. SLAPP stands for “Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation” and refers to the tactic of threatening or actually filing a lawsuit against somebody to cause them to curtail exercising their First Amendment rights.
In this case, Lan Cai was exercising her rights to comment on the internet about a service available in the marketplace. As found by the judge, the threat of – and actually filing – the lawsuit against her had to be dismissed under the law.