Jillian Michaels lawsuit provides a reminder that your website claims about the results achieved by your products and services can land you in a lot of legal trouble — have your Internet attorney review your website content — beyond what the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and state attorneys general consumer protection divisions can do to you.
You could face a multi-million dollar class action lawsuit. Here’s an example of how it works.
Fitness guru Jillian Michaels, a star of the television show “The Biggest Loser” has been sued in a California state court for allegedly making false claims on behalf of a weight-loss product. According to the plaintiff in the case, Michaels has claimed “Take two capsules before main meals and you lose weight. That’s it.” This, the plaintiff contends is false and contrary to Jillian Michaels repeated statements to the effect that long-term weight loss requires hard work and discipline.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KhSizjGIURc
This post isn’t about whether Michaels has crossed the line into making deceptive and misleading results claims. It is about the consequences of making any types of results claims for your products and services that an angry client, combined with a plaintiff’s attorney willing to work on a contingency fee, can use to make your life a living hell for the next several years whether or not you did something wrong. In the Jillian Michaels lawsuit, it is likely that she will spend more than $100,000 in legal fees if the dispute goes to trial. That’s not counting damages if she loses or settles out of court. Even if Jillian Michaels wins the lawsuit, the public will remember the allegations rather than the outcome. How much would you be able to pay in legal fees in a lawsuit because you didn’t head off claims by consulting with an Internet attorney before posting content online?
Moral of the story. Learn from the Jillian Michaels lawsuit. Double check every claim you make about your products and services. If you can afford it (how can you afford not to?), get your website analyzed by your Internet attorney. This includes both your sales page and the testimonials you use in your marketing. When in doubt, you may want to Kill Your Testimonials.
Hat tip: Tom Harvey at the Salt Lake Tribune