T&K Obtains Dismissal in $1M Suit Against Plano Pet-Owners Over One-Star Yelp Review

Dallas – The law firm of Thompson & Knight LLP and nonprofit advocacy group Public Citizen secured a victory this week in Kalle McWhorter and Prestigious Pets, LLC v. Robert Duchouquette and Michelle Duchouquette on behalf of clients Michelle and Robert Duchouquette. The 160th Judicial District Court for Dallas County granted the Duchouquettes’ Motion to Dismiss and dismissed with prejudice all causes of action alleged in the Plaintiffs’ Original Petition. The court also ruled that the Duchouquettes are entitled to recover court costs and reasonable and necessary attorneys’ fees incurred in defending this action, as well as recover sanctions against the Plaintiffs sufficient to deter them from bringing similar actions in the future.

“As Americans we all have the right to free speech, and people shouldn’t be prevented from speaking truthfully about things that are of concern to the public” said Nicole Williams, a Trial Partner at Thompson & Knight. “We are pleased the court has granted our Motion to Dismiss as this lawsuit’s accusations had no merit.”

Prestigious Pets and its owner filed a lawsuit against pet owners Michelle and Robert Duchouquette accusing the couple of defamation, business disparagement, and breach of contract arising from comments that they posted as part of a one-star Yelp.com review. The Plaintiffs sought up to $1 million in damages from the Duchouquettes. The Duchouquettes argued that the court should dismiss the claims based on the Texas Anti-SLAPP statute, otherwise known as the Texas Citizens Participation Act, which allows a judge to dismiss frivolous lawsuits filed against individuals who speak out about a matter of public concern. The court granted the couples’ Motion to Dismiss on August 26.

Michelle and Robert Duchouquette were represented by Thompson & Knight Trial Partner Nicole Williams, Thompson & Knight Trial Associates Andrew Cookingham and Christopher Dachniwsky, and Paul Alan Levy, a trial attorney with Public Citizen, a nonprofit advocacy group that advocates on behalf of consumer rights.