A lawyer helping Lan Cai—the 20-year-old waitress sued by a Houston law firm for sharing her bad experience with the firm on Facebook and Yelp—has asked a judge to immediately dismiss the case.
The Law Firm of Tuan A. Khuu sued Cai, a former client, for between $100,000 and $200,000, arguing that the things she wrote on Facebook, urging no one to ever hire the firm, are defamatory and libelous, meaning the firm believes the statements are false and will seriously damage its reputation.
Houston Attorney Michael Fleming, however, thought the case was bogus almost immediately after seeing media reports about it — including ours — and thought it was nothing but a bully’s attempt to silence unfavorable criticism on the Internet. Should a Fort Bend County judge agree, Fleming is asking that Tuan A. Khuu pay $50,000 in damages plus attorney’s fees, as Fleming is representing Cai pro bono.
“Whenever you see a situation where a lawsuit is being used to coerce somebody into taking an action —like removing an online review — it’s a red flag,” Fleming said. “The intention is to have a chilling effect and to stop other people from speaking out.”
As we reported Wednesday, Cai originally hired attorneys from Tuan A. Khuu to represent her after she was hit by a drunk driver, then subsequently hit by an SUV that couldn’t swerve out of the way in time. Her first meeting with the attorneys was already off to a bad start: They entered her private bedroom while she was half-asleep under the covers in her underwear (the attorneys maintain Cai’s mother told them to go inside). Then, after Cai was enticed by the discount attorneys offered, she hired them — but says they ignored her calls for a few days while she was bombarded with questions from insurance hounds.