According to Katrina Arthur, the Brown County, Ind., hotel she and her husband stayed at in early 2016 charged her $350 and threatened to take her to court after she dared to complain online about a bad experience.
"The room was unkempt, and it looked like it hadn't been cleaned since the last people stayed there", she said.
Mrs Arthur said she never received any paperwork, but just wants her $450 back.
The couple described their experience at the hotel as far below the standards they were expecting, with unclean bedding, poor water pressure, air-conditioning that didn't work, and a pervasive sewage smell throughout the room.
An Indiana woman who stayed at the Abbey Inn in Nashville, Indiana, was reportedly charged $350 and threatened with legal action for writing a negative review.
"So I checked the bed, and I found hairs, dirt, so I wasn't insane about that either". Arthur said she cleaned the room herself, and when it was time to leave, she couldn't find a staff member issue a complaint.
"The beds, the linen and everything looked like it had been used and dirty", said Arthur.
"I was honest. I wanted people to know not to waste their money because I know people save their money for special occasions", Arthur told WRTV.
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However, once she left the review, she said the hotel billed her for $350, and she received a letter from the hotel's attorney, threatening legal action.
She deleted the review but took to the state's attorney general to file a complaint. The company, according to the lawsuit, allegedly violated Indiana's Deceptive Consumer Sales Act.
As the investigation went on, it was discovered that Abbey Management, the company that owned and operated the hotel when Arthur was a guest, had a policy that allowed them to charge customers if they left a negative review, the lawsuit claims. "Should the guest refuse to retract any such public statements legal action may be pursued", Fox News reported. "I have nothing to do with it", she said.
The lawsuit claimed that Abbey Inn & Suites had no right to draw up such a policy because reviews are protected under free speech, something that customers can not be penalized for.
The hotel did not provide guests with a copy of the policy, nor was it posted in individual rooms or common areas, according to the Attorney General.
Call 6 was also unable to reach Andrew Szakaly, owner of Abbey Management.
The case caught the attention of the office of the Indiana Attorney General.