false advertising

Avvo Decision Raises Important Questions About Opinion-Fact Dichotomy in False Advertising Cases

Rating websites have become a popular means to review products and services – from restaurants and vacation spots,  ordinary consumer goods, to professionals like doctors, dentists and lawyers.  But rating sites can be a double-edged sword – good ratings can increase business and market share, but negative ones can hurt the bottom line.  

 What can companies do about negative ratings – especially when they believe they are the result of some flawed methodology or calculation?

Examining a recent decision of a New York federal court, dismissing false advertising claims against the attorney rating site Avvo.com, sheds light on what can and cannot be done legally to deal with what may be unfair or flawed ratings. 

 While ratings themselves are generally construed as non-actionable opinion, representations about how a site creates and calculates its rating are often factual and, if misrepresented, could form the basis of a legal claim.