Stamell & Schager, LLP announces that a class action lawsuit has been filed against Avvo, Inc. (“Avvo”). The class action, filed in United States District Court, Southern District of New York, and docketed under 18-cv-2835, is on behalf of a class consisting of lawyers who practice law in the United States and who have not paid Avvo for promotional services (“Non-Paying Attorneys”). Plaintiff seeks monetary damages along with injunctive relief over Avvo’s dissemination of false and misleading commercial advertising. Specifically at issue is Avvo’s affiliate relationships with attorneys who subscribe to Avvo’s services (“Paying Attorneys”) and Avvo’s misrepresentations concerning the nature of its services and commercial activities in violation of § 43(a) of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1125.
If you are Non-Paying Attorney, you can ask the Court to appoint you as Lead Plaintiff for the class. A copy of the Complaint can be obtained at www.ssnylaw.com. If you have information relating to the allegations above or wish to discuss the action further, please contact Stamell & Schager, LLP at or 212-566-4047.
In 2007, Avvo launched www.avvo.com to provide an internet-based for-profit attorney marketing service where prospective clients (consumer users) could find and vet qualified attorneys. Among other things, the website maintains individual profiles for what Avvo represents are all licensed attorneys in the United States without any attorney involvement or consent, purporting to compile relevant information from public sources.
The Complaint alleges that Avvo misrepresents its relationship with Paying Attorneys and misleads consumer users into thinking that Avvo is recommending and connecting them with attorneys based on independent and unbiased criteria. In truth, Paying Attorneys are favored because Avvo is collecting fees from them.
Non-Paying Attorneys are put at an unfair disadvantage because they do not receive “Pro” seals of endorsement, do not receive prominent placements throughout the site, and cannot doctor their profile and ratings. As a result, potential clients seeking legal services are diverted from Non-Paying Attorneys who do not engage in Avvo’s pay-to-play services to Paying Attorneys who do. The damage is compounded by the fact that Avvo acts as a conduit for its referral program—a practice which has led to multiple jurisdictions (including the New York State Bar Association) issuing opinions advising that Paying Attorneys are engaging in improper fee sharing.
The Complaint estimates that Avvo’s conduct has caused Non-Paying Attorneys millions of dollars in lost legal business, as well as significant reputational harm.
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