12:57, August 13 35 0 abajournal.com

2019-08-13 12:57:05
Firm settles suit alleging it solicited fake online reviews that tricked woman into becoming client

fake stamp

Image from Shutterstock.com.

Kraemer Manes & Associates has settled a lawsuit claiming that a client got bad legal advice after she was tricked into hiring the Pennsylvania law firm because of fake online reviews.

Plaintiff Tabatha Wolfe filed a notice of the settlement in Allegheny County court Aug. 8, Law360 reports. Reuters had prior coverage of Wolfe’s amended class action complaint, filed in March.

The lawsuit claimed that Kraemer Manes had “orchestrated a scheme of soliciting positive online reviews” from people who had never used the law firm’s services. Nonlawyer employees were encouraged to solicit friends and family to write the reviews and given time off for each positive review they secured, the suit alleged.

The suit listed several law firm employees thought to have written the reviews along with the employees’ friends and family members. Many five-star reviews were collected in short periods of time, and some of the reviews were the same for office locations more than 300 miles apart, according to the suit.

Wolfe said she relied on reviews of Kraemer Manes on Google when she hired the law firm for a potential sex harassment claim against her former employer. The law firm botched her hostile work environment claim, she alleged, when it failed to file a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by the required deadline.

Wolfe gave the firm a one-star review alleging that it “completely destroyed my case.” The law firm responded with a letter threatening litigation, the suit said.

Wolfe’s suit had alleged negligence, fraud, negligent misrepresentation, civil conspiracy, unfair trade practices, violation of consumer protection law, and civil RICO violations.

Kramer Manes had denied that any of its lawyers solicited fake reviews, according to the prior Reuters coverage. The firm had alleged in a motion to dismiss that Wolfe made her “scurrilous and vexatious allegations” in coordination with a disgruntled former employee.