Couple Fined For Negative Online Review Win Lawsuit, Await Restitution

8 replies
(KUTV) Thursday, a federal district court granted a default judgment against KlearGear, the online retailer that fined a Layton, Utah couple over a critical online review.

As Get Gephardt was first to reported last November, Jen Palmer was angry after products her husband John ordered from the website,, never arrived and they couldn't get answers from the company.

"You can't get a hold of anyone [at]," Jen said. "You can't get anybody on the phone. You can't get anybody live. None of the extensions work."

Jen said as much on the internet complaint board,, way back in 2008. Years later, it turned out to be a costly negative review for her husband John. says that by Jen posting the review, John violated a "non-disparagement" clause that is buried in's terms of sale. The penalty for doing so was a $3500 fine that John was ordered to pay.

"This is fraud," Jen said. "They're blackmailing us for telling the truth."

When John and Jen refused to pay, sent the account to a collection agency and John's credit rating was destroyed. The move made it impossible for John and Jen to refinance their home, buy a car or even get credit to repair a broken heater in their home. Still, John and Jen remained defiant.

"At this point it's already blackmail," she said. "There is no way were going to bend to [pay the fine]."

Months later, that refusal to bend has finally paid off. The Washington D.C. based Public Citizen Litigation Group saw John and Jen's story on and contacted Get Gephardt asking to be put in touch with the Palmers.

Public Citizen Lawyer Scott Michelman helped the couple sue in federal court. didn't respond the lawsuit. Court records show that the Palmer's complaint was sent to several physical addresses for including a Michigan address where it "apparently reached someone at," because it was twice, "returned by the U.S. Postal Service as 'refused,'" according to court documents.

Thursday's judgment declares that John Palmer does not now, and never did, owe or any other party any money based on's 'non-disparagement clause.' It also holds KlearGear liable on all of the Palmers' claims, which were for violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, for defamation, for interference with prospective economic relations, and for intentional infliction of emotional distress.

A hearing has been set to determine damages, at which time the judge will hear from John and Jen about the harms they have suffered.

"This step does not end the case entirely, because the judge must still determine the amount of KlearGear's liability. But today's order does resolve most of the disputes in the case," said Michelman.

As for the non-disparagement clause on's website, it disappeared shortly after the original Get Gephardt report aired but has since returned. Consumers who choose to do business with and are unhappy with that service are again forbidden from telling anybody about it by the company. says that the fine for doing so is $3500.

Also named in the lawsuit was the collection agency that reported John as a deadbeat to the nation's credit bureaus, Fidelity Information Corporation. In February, the $3,500 fine against John was dropped by Fidelity Information which also restored John's credit score. As a result, John and Jen dismissed the collection agency from the suit.

By Matt Gephardt

(Copyright 2014 Sinclair Broadcasting.)

Couple Fined for Negative Online Review win Lawsuit, Await Restitution |
#await #couple #fined #lawsuit #negative #online #restitution #review #win
  • Profile picture of the author Joe J

    Do we really have to read the fine print on every transaction we make, no matter how small?

    That could add many times over, to the amount of time it takes to order something.
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    • Profile picture of the author McKattry
      Wow, a lawsuit that actually seems fair. I think that I'd rather see that companies officials thrown in jail however!
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  • Profile picture of the author internetmarketer1
    It's scary when you look at the negative reviews and how they can affect the business. When I would help people with reputation management, I would talk to the business a lot and see how bad their reviews are and why it is getting so bad. Most of them would reply saying they had no idea where it came from. It's a great way to find out if the reviews are real or fake, and......if you can help them, it's a great money maker. I only help those who are honest and businesses who know that most of those reviews are just from angry customers.
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    • Profile picture of the author M Bissonnette
      Wow, the power of critical online reviews!

      An investment in knowledge pays the best interest

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    • Profile picture of the author serryjw
      "non-disparagement" clause
      . What happened to the first amendment, this can't legal or enforceable.
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  • Profile picture of the author Angle Warrior
    I wonder how long before I start seeing the "non-disparagement" clause in all the emails I receive daily?
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  • Profile picture of the author NewParadigm
    the company was stupid to sue a customer. the only time you do that is if a major customer renegs on some contract and it causes your business significant harm.

    the class action suit i am waiting for is businesses against yelp. they deserve to lose millions.

    In a moment of decision the best thing you can do is the right thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing. ~ Theodore Roosevelt

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    • Profile picture of the author serryjw
      REALLY, WHY? I know nothing about them.
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