'Dietary Supplement' Company Tries Suing PissedConsumer, Citing Buyer's Agreement To Never Say Anything Negative
from the good-thing-we-never-bought-anything-from-roca-labs dept
Roca Labs is a company that describes itself as a manufacturer of “dietary supplements” some of which they label with highly questionable claims that I imagine would not be supported by anything the FDA would consider to be credible evidence. In particular, they have something called “Gastric Bypass Alternative” which claims to help people lose weight — though I would treat such claims skeptically without further proof. Indeed, it appears that many of Roca Labs’ buyers are not happy about it. The Better Business Bureau gives Roca Labs an F grade due to the large number of complaints, many of which remain unresolved. Meanwhile the site PissedConsumer also has a bunch of complaints about Roca Labs and its products — and it appears that the PissedConsumer page ranks rather highly on Google for searches on Roca Labs. Roca Labs is — apparently — not happy with that.
So it has now sued the parent company of PissedConsumer, Consumer Opinion Corp, trying to get the reviews taken down. The lawsuit is worth reading. It claims that PissedConsumer is engaged in “deceptive and unfair trade practices” and that part of this is… because customers of Roca Labs agree to never say anything negative about the company.
Roca sells its products directly to the public and in exchange a discounted price, Roca’s customers agree under the terms and conditions of said purchase that regardless of their outcome, they will not speak, publish, print, biog or write negatively about Roca or its products in any forum.
Of course, any such agreement is of questionable legality. However, we’ve certainly been seeing a lot of these questionable “no negative reviews or you pay” agreements showing up lately.
But, you say, PissedConsumer isn’t the issue here, right? After all, the company never agreed to those conditions, even if the buyers did agree to them (whether or not they’re legally sound). Roca is trying to get around that by arguing that because it has this clause and because PissedConsumer urges angry consumers to complain, the company is “tortiously interfering” with Roca’s business because it’s encouraging people to break the agreement. I’m not joking.
Defendants deliberately and tortiously interfere with Roca Lab’s customers by encouraging them to breach their customer agreement with Roca as Defendants author or co-author false, malicious and negative posts about Roca that are published on their subject website and Twecred to Twitter’s 271 million users.
Where to start? First of all, no. Almost everything there is ridiculous. Presenting a platform for people to express their own opinions is not encouraging them to break any contract (which, again, is of dubious legality in the first place). Second, the site is not authoring or co-authoring the posts. Third, there’s no evidence that anything being posted is “false.” Fourth, what does Twitter’s total user base have to do with anything? It appears that @PissedConsumer’s account has a few thousand followers.
None of this matters anyway, because even if any of the other arguments made sense (and none of them seem to make much, if any, sense) PissedConsumer is clearly well protected by Section 230 of the CDA, which protects websites from the actions of their users. And, of course, PissedConsumer and its legal team are well aware of all this having hit back at previous bogus legal threats in the past. I don’t expect Roca Labs will get very far with this complaint. However, if you’d like to see which complaints Roca Labs especially wants deleted, check page four of the complaint below, where the company conveniently lists out the statements it doesn’t like. And, because they’re so wrong on just about every other legal claim, it seems worth noting that many of them are clearly statements of opinion, rather than anything that would be clearly defamatory anyway (and if they were defamatory the company would need to go after those individuals who made them in the first place, rather than the company hosting the content).