Personal injury lawyers are very competitive by nature. We like to fight and win, it’s in our DNA. Likewise, it is important that when an injured person calls, it’s all hands on deck. Many personal injury firms will go that extra mile to not only get the client - but also to make sure that a client is happy.
Some go a bit too far, and of course, hindsight is always 20-20, but this is what happened to a Texas firm called Tuan A. Khuu. The Khuu firm was recently sued by a former client claiming that attorneys at the firm acted in an unethical manner.
This former client (Lan Cai) went so far as to write a negative review of the firm, which caused a stir. Not only did she get a lot of attention from the review, but she also got a letter from the firm and the threat of a lawsuit. What happened next is a really good lesson in what not to do when you work for or run a personal injury firm.
Careful What You Say
Twenty-year-old Lan Cai was involved in a drunk driving accident. She was hit by another car and sought help from the legal firm Tuan A. Khuu. According to Cai, the firm did not give her direction after she sought and secured their services. As if this wasn’t bad enough, Cai claimed that lawyers from the firm came to her house and into her bedroom to speak with her. While the details here are a bit light, it is purely my opinion, but this situation probably could have been avoided by knocking and asking her to come out or gaining her permission to come in.
During this conversation, Cai was in her bed in her underwear -- this behavior is what prompted Cai to write a negative review of the firm. After reading this review, lawyers from the firm sent her a letter asking her to remove the negative review or face a suit. Instead of removing the review, Cai added onto her previous note mentioning the legal letter - and hired an attorney to sue the firm for damages.
A court found the law firm guilty of filing a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation suit (SLAPP), which is illegal in the state of Texas where this incident happened. The court also ordered the firm to pay Cai’s legal fees and to provide her with an amount requested for damages. Ouch.
We always go the extra mile to try and help the people that come in to see us. It’s just what we do. I have been to many client’s homes, and I have even been invited into several client’s bedrooms. It was not something that I took lightly.
Even in the Attorney-Client relationship, there’s a strong and thick line between going that extra bit for a client and crossing a line. Walking into a client’s bedroom is not something that personal injury lawyers should take lightly. Unless it is absolutely necessary to assist the client to pursue justice, it should never be considered.
The same goes for suing a former client for a review written online. While a false review is one thing (from a client that never was a client, for example), and might be cause for legal action, you cannot stifle someone’s personal opinion with a lawsuit (or the threat of one). This case has caused a lot of negative press for the firm, warranted or not, and that’s something that should be avoided at all costs. This is a situation that we can all learn from. I call it a lesson in what not to do.