Lawyer Can’t Sue Google for Bad Client Review–Lewis v. Google

Kerry Lewis is a lawyer. A putative client, “Lolo Mosby,” posted a zero-star rating and a negative review of him. I can’t find the review online, and the link in the court opinion no longer works. However, the complaint contains a screenshot of the review:


Lewis denied having a client by that name and asked Google to remove the review, which it refused. Lewis sued Google. Google defended on Section 230 grounds. This is an easy case:

  • ICS Provider: “Courts that considered similar issues found that Google qualifies as an ‘interactive computer service’ provider. This court was unable to locate any decisions to the contrary.”
  • Third-Party Content: “Lolo Mosby” created the review.
  • Publisher/Speaker Claim: “Lewis seeks to hold Google liable as a publisher for refusing to investigate or take any action to remove the review. As explained in Bennett, ‘the decision to print or retract is fundamentally a publishing decision for which the CDA provides explicit immunity.'”

Lewis cited Justice Thomas’ anti-Section 230 statement in the Malwarebytes v. Enigma cert denial. This isn’t the first time a plaintiff has tried to find gold in Thomas’ screed, and it won’t be the last. The judge replies: “the contexts questioned by Justice Thomas are not implicated and like in Malwarebytes, this case is not a proper vehicle to examine the policies and purposes underlying § 230.”

Despite losing here, the court says Lewis “may seek relief against the person who posted the allegedly defamatory message.”

The court dismisses the case with prejudice:

There is no real dispute that Lewis’ fundamental theory is that Google should be held liable for failing to remove harmful content created by Lolo Mosby from its network. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals held that § 230 of the Communications Decency Act “specifically proscribes liability” in such circumstances. Green v. Am. Online (AOL), 318 F.3d 465, 471 (3d Cir. 2003). Although Lewis sought only monetary damages in the complaint, § 230 immunity has been found to bar injunctive relief, as well.

Case citation: Lewis v. Google, Inc., 2021 WL 211495 (W.D. Pa. Jan. 21, 2021). The complaint.