Messy Lawsuit Features Rival Crime Scene Clean-Up Companies
Who knew the crime scene/trauma clean-up business was so, um, cut-throat? If the allegations in a local civil court case are to be believed, only rival drug lords conduct their business more ruthlessly.
According to plaintiffs John DiGulio and K.P. Management, two area men and their respective companies have conspired to wreck his successful business through slander, business disparagement and deceptive trade practices. The plaintiffs say the defendants cloned their Web domain and resorted to slander most foul in a bogus Google review of their business.
The story begins in the summer of 2009. Back then, the suit says, a representative of defendant Garner Environmental Services reached out to one or more employees of plaintiffs Biohazard Services Corporation, a subsidiary of K.P. Management.
The Garner rep wanted to know everything about the crime-scene clean-up business, the suit claims, and wanted to take a meeting to find out more. According to the suit, "Plaintiff became suspicious of Garner's motives when they began questioning the type of equipment Plaintiff used." Plaintiff stopped taking Garner's calls at that point.
If the suit is to be believed, Garner was undaunted by this rebuff. They allegedly hired Big Splash LLC, the same Web design firm that built BSC's Web site, and came up with their own site. Since BSC was already using the domain www.biohazardsolutions.com, the new rival company went with www.biohazardsolution.com, the suit says.
And then, the suit claims, Garner and company really took the gloves off.
The suit claims that since they were having trouble competing with BSC, "rather than compete on a level playing field, Defendants decided to post a malicious review of Plaintiff's company. Specifically, [Web designer] Christopher Brown under the direction of Garner, and under the username 'jaydenbabyboy,' posted a false and slanderous review on Google that read:
Mentally Scarred Family Member!
Recently a member of my family committed suicide, it was very messy. I did not have relationship with them so I handled the clean up. Called biohazard solutions, big mistake. My aunt found pieces of her daughter after the clean up can you imagine, there are not words. The owner wont take our calls.
That review was posted last July, and it remains up today. In the suit, it's claimed that this was the number one search result for "Biohazard Solutions" for a year.
The Plaintiff denies that this scenario is even possible. The suit states that authorities remove all body parts before they are called in. They only clean up "material like blood or residual tissue," so there's no chance that anybody would find pieces of a daughter. They also claim that they never failed to return their customers' phone calls, though we imagine that's a lesser sin than leaving chunks of some poor soul's skull on the living room ceiling.
The plaintiffs claim that the review was false and malicious and designed to sabotage their business, and, what's more, that it worked. They say that they have suffered a steep decline in new business and revenue since the review went up.
For the defendants' alleged slander, business disparagement, violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, and conspiracy, the plaintiffs are asking for compensatory and punitive damages, actual and treble damages, interest, costs and fees.
Garner, Big Splash and Christopher Brown have denied all of the allegations. They say that the malicious review came from some unknown third party, and since they are not responsible for the review, BSC and DiGulio should take nothing from them.
Last week, the defendants also requested that the court subpoena information about "jaydenbabyboy" from Google's legal investigation team.
We've got calls in to lawyers from both sides and we'll update as needed.