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Fired Paralegal Sued by Former Boss for Citysearch Review

The Ultimate Bellaire is reporting that a Texas paralegal and (I’m assuming) her husband are being sued in Harris County District Court by her former supervising attorney, Michael Weston of Weston & Associates, PLLC, a bankruptcy firm, for allegedly posting a highly negative review of Weston on Citysearch.com.

The plaintiffs say that after they fired Amber Williams, their paralegal, for insubordination on Nov. 6, 2010, she and Jon Williams posted a false and derogatory review of Weston on Citysearch.com, claiming, among other things, that he is condescending and cold. According to the brief, this fraudulent posting has been made public to thousands of potential clients since Nov. 22, 2010, resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars of lost income.


I checked Weston & Associates’ current Citysearch.com profile, and there are no negative reviews – but the review that appears to be the subject of the lawsuit is cached. Written by jon77088, it was entitled “Waste of Time and Money,” and described the son as “condescending to my situation and cold in demeanor.” You can read the rest of it yourself, but it’s definitely not a review that any legal professional would be pleased to have published online about his or her services.

Citysearch allows pretty much anybody registered users to post reviews of local business services but publishes terms of use that prohibit certain activities, including posting harmful content or content that violates any federal, state or local laws. To register for a new account, all you have to do is provide an email address, and fill in first, last, and member names that can easily not be your real ones. Ideally, sites like Citysearch and Yelp, containing genuine consumer reviews should foster transparency for local business services, but some postings containing negative – and allegedly libelous – statements have been the subject of Internet defamation cases like this one.

Since filing a defamation suit about a negative review on a consumer website no doubt brings more attention to the unfavorable content than simply ignoring it, responding to it, or asking the poster to take it down, a plaintiff who proceeds with litigation is much more interested in sending a strong message about the consequences of libel than actually recovering a large monetary award from a defendant who probably lacks the means to pay it.

In plain English, that means this lawyer is extremely angry and believes that suing a former employee for allegedly posting a false online review is the best way to send a very public message that this behavior is unacceptable.

Whether a disgruntled paralegal published defamatory content about her former supervising attorney, and if so, how much are the damages, are issues for a jury, unless the parties settle the dispute before trial. But the fact that these allegations are even the subject of a lawsuit is a good reminder that the Internet is the worst  place in the world to vent anger about workplace issues and/or post negative content about colleagues. Even anonymous posters leave behind electronic footprints.

If you’re ever the angriest you believe you’ve ever been in your life and are tempted to post an “anonymous” derogatory comment, review, or blog post to lash out against a former or current colleague, stop and consider that your real identity can be easily uncovered. Then consider the worst possible consequences for the rest of your career.  Do you really want your name to appear in connection with a defamation suit when people Google you?

Source:  Ultimate Bellaire

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