A Texas pet-sitting business is seeking up to $1 million in damages from a couple who gave a one-star review on Yelp and criticized the company's treatment of their tiny blue tropical Betta fish "Gordy" while the family was away on vacation. The company, Prestigious Pets of Dallas, claims the review is a breach of a non-disparagement clause and defamation.
Paul Alan Levy, a Public Citizen lawyer who is defending the couple, summarized the company's revised suit (PDF) targeting the couple.
Levy's defense, filed Thursday in a local Dallas court, is that the family's review was truthful and protected by the First Amendment.
"As our filing in the case indicates, though, there are photos showing that the fish water became cloudy and that food accumulated at the bottom of the tank, which must have been caused by overfeeding, and apparently overfeeding is a serious issue for this kind of tropical fish," Levy said.
Michelle and Robert Duchouquette, of Plano, said they discovered Prestigious Pets in Dallas on Yelp and that the company's page was full of five-star ratings. The couple hired the service last year before heading on a five-day trip to Napa Valley in California. The firm walked and fed the couple's two dogs, too. On Yelp, Michelle also complained about the company's billing practices. The review, however, also said that the "care of our dogs was fine."
That was distinctly not the case with Gordy, according to the Duchouquettes' review.
Wow a million bux.