Friday, November 19, 2004

Yellow Pages Can Be Sued For Misrepresenting Doctor's Qualifications

This is old news, but I just came across it. The YP sales rep needs to be very careful about what headings a professional is listed under and what the ad copy says.

Yellow Pages Can Be Sued For Misrepresenting Doctor's Qualifications

A woman who was injured by a negligently performed liposuction can sue the local yellow pages for publishing a misleading advertisement about the doctor, the Oregon Court of Appeals has ruled.

The doctor was a board certified dermatologist with some training in performing liposuction. In the local yellow pages, he was listed under the category of dermatology. When he told a yellow pages representative that he performed liposuction, the representative recommended that he also be listed under the category of plastic and reconstructive surgeons. The advertisement stated that he was "board certified," even though his only board certification was in dermatology.

The plaintiff found the doctor's name through the yellow pages ad. She argued that the publisher negligently led her to believe that the doctor was board certified in plastic surgery.

The publisher argued that because each page of the yellow pages included a "disclaimer," the plaintiff's reliance on the ad was unjustified.

But the court said that "although the yellow pages included the 'disclaimer'…they also contained statements that the yellow pages provided 'the most complete information about all the businesses and stores in your area,' and that the yellow pages 'make it easy for you to select the one who can serve you the best.' Such statements can certainly be viewed as promoting users' reliance on the contents of yellow pages advertisements. When allegedly 'disclaiming' language is…indefinite…it must be viewed in the context of other representations made by defendant, and its meaning and effect are not susceptible to summary judgment."

Knepper v. Brown (Lawyers Weekly USA No. 9923803) Oregon Court of Appeals No. A110172.

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