A Westchester lawyer has served a former client and another claiming to be an ex-client with a demand to pay at least $225,000 for allegedly posting libelous reviews on Yelp and Google, in which they asserted the attorney was a "useless" and a "crook."
On Nov. 8, Michael J. Young, a lawyer whose website says he specializes in “DUI and criminal defense,” filed suit in Cook County Circuit Court, accusing a Darien man and a woman of defaming him in comments they allegedly left in online “reviews,” critiquing him and his law practice. Defendants identified in the lawsuit include Michael E. Deckys and Yasmin Kay.
Young is representing himself in the action.
According to the complaint, Young represented Deckys in a “criminal traffic matter” in DuPage County. The lawsuit alleges Deckys hired Young in January 2014 and Young continued to represent him “until such a time that (Deckys) hired a different attorney.” The complaint does not specify when that happened.
In September, however, Young said Deckys posted what he alleges is a defamatory review on Yelp, a website on which users can post reviews of businesses and organizations.
According to the complaint, Deckys’ Yelp review of Young said: “Useless as the day is long. He talks, and talks, and he takes your money and never delivers. Funny how other reviewers say someone else stole money from them, Michael J. Young STOLE $3,000 from ME! AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE! AVOID THIS CROOK!”
“Defendant’s statements were false and Defendant knew his statements were false,” Young wrote in his complaint, adding he believes the allegedly false statements were made “with malice towards Attorney Young” in an effort to “deter other potential clients … from deciding to hire Attorney Young as counsel.”
According to the complaint, “Kay” followed Deckys’ Yelp review with a similar bad review on a site he identified only as “Google.” That review said: “Useless. I would have been better off with a public defendant [sic]. At least they show up to court. 3k thrown out the window. Never again.”
In his complaint, Young asserts he never represented anyone identified as Yasmin Kay, alleging this means the person who posted the review also had smeared him using false statements made with malice to harm his business.
Young has asked the court to order each of the defendants to pay him compensatory damages of $75,000, plus $1,000 more for each day the reviews remain online after Nov. 8. He also asked the court to order the defendants to pay $150,000 in “exemplary damages.”