Cruel Hoax Cost It Plenty, Restaurant Says

     HOUSTON (CN) – The operator of a Hip-Hop website cost a restaurant 80 percent of its business by posting on Facebook a bogus photo of a mouse fetus in a container of fried rice, the restaurant claims in court.
     Timmy Chan Inc. sued Facebook, The Go Daddy Group and Dennis L. Richardson in Harris County Court.
     The “Original Timmy Chan,” restaurant in southeast Houston has served a “majority African-American clientele” for many years, according to the complaint.
     “On or about April 15, 2013, plaintiff noticed that the number of customers at the business had dropped off sharply. Sales were immediately down by over 80 percent, without any reasonable explanation,” the complaint states.
     “On or about April 16, 2013, plaintiff learned from customers who came into the store that a false photograph, depicting a mouse fetus at the bottom of a mostly empty container of fried rice, had been attributed to its store in a post by ‘HoustonHipHopNews.com’ on Facebook. Business continued to be at an extremely low level for plaintiff throughout the week.
     “On or about April 16, 2013, HoustonPress reporter Katharine Shilcutt published her blog report ‘PSA: This Rat Fetus Was NOT found in Timmy Chan’s Fried Rice’ in which she disclosed that the same photo had previously been posted and attributed to a Chinese food court in Lafayette, Louisiana and to Park City Chinese Food in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. After reviewing the Health Department inspection report, her independent conclusion was that the photograph was false.”
     Timmy Chan claims HoustonHipHopNews.com is registered to Richardson on GoDaddy.com. Through an attorney, the restaurant sent cease-and-desist letters about the “libelous post” to Facebook, GoDaddy and Richardson.
     Chan says it believes that damages “would likely be uncollectable against defendant Dennis L. Richardson,” and that the defendants have not “indicated any intention to relent” from what they are doing.
     It wants an injunction ordering defendants to remove the picture from Facebook.
     It is represented by J. Robert Brown Jr. with Gamal, Dang & Associates.

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