Monday, June 14, 2010

Consumers Beware: Your Facebook Complaint Group Could Land You In Court

Posted by Amanda Walsh

Legal experts are saying more and more companies are now taking legal action against consumers who vent online about their dissatisfaction with company services. I found a recent article on NYTimes.com by Dan Frosch which points out that social networking sites have given dissatisfied customers and clients a platform to air their complaints to many followers and friends.

In the article, 21-year-old university student in Kalamazoo, Mich., Justin Kurtz, lashed out against a local towing company after his car was towed. Kurtz was set off after paying the required $118 fee to get his car back and took his aggression out on Facebook. He created a page called “Kalamazoo Residents against T&J Towing” which drew over 800 followers within two days. Shortly after, T&T filed a defamation lawsuit against Kurtz seeking $750,000 in damages.
According to the article, “some First Amendment lawyers consider the lawsuit an example of the latest incarnation of a decades-old legal maneuver known as a strategic lawsuit against public participation, or Slapp.” Different states have different laws concerning Slapp, but in Michigan there is no anti-Slapp legislature. Kurtz has become quite famous and his Facebook page has now grown to 12,000 people.

I wanted to share this news with ThePRLawyer audience because Furia Rubel provides marketing and public relations services to law firms and lawyers. However, this is a reminder to everyone, in any industry, that what we say and do online is in a public forum.

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