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Utah couple win against company that charged for bad online review

Published May 15, 2014 5:44 pm

Courts • The retailer said that a 'non-disparagement clause' was violated.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The tables have turned for a online gadget retailer that tried to force a Layton couple to pay it $3,500 for a negative review the wife posted about the company.

A federal judge has ruled John and Jen Palmer owe nothing to KlearGear and that instead, the company owes them money. The amount is to be determined at a court hearing in June.

In a lawsuit filed in December in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City, the couple said John Palmer never received a desk toy and a key chain he ordered for his wife in 2008. KlearGear canceled the order after an email correspondence, and Jen Palmer shared her dissatisfaction with the company's service in a review on RipoffReport.com.

KlearGear told the couple in May 2012 that they had 72 hours to remove the post or pay it $3,500 for violating a "non-disparagement clause" in its terms of use for customers, according to the suit. The Palmers refused on the grounds, among others, that the clause was not present at the time of purchase and the terms violate the First Amendment.

KlearGear notified credit bureaus of the alleged debt, the Palmers said, which led to a poor credit rating that delayed a car loan and made it impossible for them to get a loan for a broken furnace last fall.

U.S. District Judge Dee Benson entered a default judgment on April 30 in favor of the couple after KlearGear, which appears to be based in Michigan, failed to respond to the suit. His order says the retailer is liable to the Palmers for defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, intentional interference with prospective contractual relations and violation of the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act.

pmanson@sltrib.com

Twitter: @PamelaMansonSLC