A pair of Texans are being sued after going to a popular review website to post their negative impressions of a Texas pet care company. The pet company is not suing the company because what they said is false, they are suing because in the contract for services, the couple signed a non-disparagement clause.
If a company sues someone for posting a negative review on a website, it is usually because the claim is false and is a lie about the company or person. These kinds of claims are for defamation or slander. But those cases are only actionable when what is posted online is false. There is a new way companies are protecting their online reputations, non-disparagement clauses.
Rise of the Non-Disparagement Clause
Non-disparagement clauses are gaining popularity among small and large business for the protection they offer. In a nutshell, a non-disparagement clause is part of contract where the company agrees to provide a service and the the buyer agrees, in part, not to post bad reviews or say something disparaging (negative) about the company. In a contract dispute over breach of the clause, a company would argue that they reduced prices or offered something in return for the client’s agreement not to disparage them.
That is what happened in this case. The couple went on a vacation and left their dog and fish in the hands of this pet company. When they returned, they found that they were not satisfied with the company’s handling of their pets, so they went to a popular review site to express their displeasure. Now they are being sued because of the negative comments on the website, and because of the fact they have a contract that barred them from making those comments.
As could be guessed, the couple is aghast at the fact they are being sued for simply posting their impressions of their experience with the company. There are questions about whether such a contract clause is even legal because of the First Amendment right of expression in the U.S. Constitution. But the fact is, these kinds of clauses have been used for dozens and dozens of years in our legal system.
Somes states, like California are taking action against non-disparagement clauses. For the foreseeable future, they are going to be a big part of contracting for services and products in American commerce. The lesson? Every person should always read what they sign before signing. No one wants to end up in a lawsuit for simply sharing their views about a company’s services.
Panama City Area Accident and Injury Report
Non-disparagement clauses are not the only thing you should be looking out for in a contract. Many times contracts will have clauses that waive your ability to bring a lawsuit if you are injured on someone else’s property or while doing a particular activity. There are also clauses that can eliminate your ability to bring a claim in court, but be required to arbitrate any case.
At The Pittman Firm we deal with accident and injury cases in a way that helps the victim recover all that they are justly entitled to. If you have been injured in an accident or injury in the Panama City area, contact us.
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