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Couple Prevails In Court After Being Sued For Online Review

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PLANO (CBSDFW.COM) - A lawsuit was dismissed Tuesday against a couple who wrote a negative Yelp review about a pet services company.

Back in February, Michelle Duchouquette and her husband were facing a $1 million lawsuit after writing a one-star review about Prestigious Pets in Dallas. The review said that she did not like the extra $5 fee to walk her dogs, and that the fish bowl's water appeared cloudy with possibly too much food.

In June, CBS 11 obtained information that attorneys for Michelle and Robert Duchouquette filed a 31-page motion to dismiss the case in Dallas district court.

The motion claimed that the couple was exercising their right to free speech by writing the negative review.

"I don't think it was hateful, it didn't have bad intent, it's my opinion of a business," said Duchouquette. After a motion filed by Duchouquette's attorney, the first lawsuit was dropped and a new lawsuit was filed against the Plano couple by Prestigious Pets. "When I say it out loud, saying I'm getting sued up to $1 million over this review, I can't believe it."

The suit alleged that the review violated the non-disparagement clause in the contract, and that the negative attention has left the business a "shell of its former success." Prestigious Pets was seeking damages of $200,000 to $1 million.

Public Citizen, an advocacy group in Washington D.C., represented the couple for free. Nicole Williams, an attorney at Thompson & Knight in Dallas, also agreed to take on the case pro bono as their local counsel.

At the time, Williams explained that the lawsuit could have a big impact on anyone who writes reviews in Texas. "This is really going to be a case about: Can consumers feel safe to go on websites like TripAdvisor and Yelp and write truthful reviews without being brought into court and potentially sued for up to $1 million," said Williams.

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