A lawsuit filed by a Florida attorney against Avvo (a website that profiles attorneys and provides ratings) alleging defamation, false advertising and misrepresentation was dismissed by a Federal Court in Washington State. Additionally, under Washington’s anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Publication Participation) statute, the plaintiff was ordered to pay Avvo its attorney fees and a $10,000 penalty.
In the underlying case, plaintiff was approached by a prospective client to represent her in an employment matter. The prospective client allegedly indicated to the attorney that as he had a “low rank” on Avvo, he should be eager to take her case. Upon learning of the “low rank”, the plaintiff attempted to correct errors in his profile and have his name removed from Avvo’s database. These activities were unsuccessful. Plaintiff subsequently filed a lawsuit against Avvo in Florida. Avvo then moved to transfer venue to Washington based on a choice of law provision in their user agreement. The motion to transfer was granted and the case was heard in Washington.
Relying on applicable law and Washington’s anti-SLAPP statute, the Federal District Court dismissed plaintiff’s claim and ordered that Avvo’s attorney fees be reimbursed as well as pay a $10,000 statutory penalty.
The Court’s decision can be found here..http://media.avvo.com/avvo-press/Avvo_AntiSlappMotion_Ruling.pdf