LUBBOCK, TX — A Lubbock man decided to leave a negative review of an Irish company he worked with online. Once the company read it, they decided to take legal action.
“Never did I think I could be personally held accountable for a review of a business,” said Tim Castleman, the man who left the review.
In 2015, Castleman hired the company to help grow his online business.
After working with the company, Castleman discovered they had made errors that would cost him $8,000, he said.
After failing to deal with the issue privately, Castleman decided to post a negative review of the company online.
“I just say ‘Hey as a customer, here is what I experienced with this,’” said Castleman. “For a lot of people, $8,000 would sink them, as it did with this business.”
Next thing he knew, the company filed a lawsuit against him.
“Over leaving a review of a non-U.S. company, of a non-U.S. citizen for a service that I paid for,” said Castleman.
The company asked Castleman to take down the review, claiming he owed them over $300,000 for defamation. When Castleman refused to pay, they filed a lawsuit.
“Hoping and praying and thinking justice prevails, right? You see all the movies, you read the books and you think ‘Okay justice is going to come, especially for the U.S. citizen,’” said Castleman.
But justice was further away than he thought. Castleman said he never received notice of a court date for the lawsuit, so a Lubbock judge defaulted the suit to the company.
That means Castleman owed them over $300,000 without ever knowing it. Eventually Castleman’s properties were seized and sold, all while waiting for a trial date with the court of appeals, and Castleman lost everything.
“I took a lot of pride in my business and all of that is taken away from me and you’re helpless, there is nothing. I can’t yell and scream enough to get anyone to do anything,” said Castleman. “Everything you work for can just be taken away in a minute and again, very dark days, thoughts of suicide.”
Castleman is still unsure of how he ended up where he is.
“Whenever you think of a situation, you think of the upside. You never think ‘What if they turn around and sue me?’ So what I would caution people first, is it worth it?” said Castleman.
Castleman is now waiting on a court date at the appellate level. If a judge there overturns the Lubbock judge’s ruling, it could bring him one step closer to undoing this damage.
But Castleman says no matter what, his life will never be the same.
“Now I’m the one that is going to be forced to try, try and undo this. And at the end of the day I could ultimately win this case and lose everything I have,” said Castleman.
Castleman advised folks that if he were forced to do it all over he would be more proactive with dealing with the courts in hopes of tipping the scales in his favor. For now, he is watching and waiting for his next court date, which could be 15 months away.