San Diego firm the McMillan Group is being sued by online directory company Yelp.com for allegedly fabricating positive reviews to boost its reputation.
Yelp is suing the firm for alleged breach of contract, intentional interference with contractual relations and two counts relating to California’s false advertising statutes after claiming the firm’s employees were responsible for the positive reviews.
The breach of contract claim alleges that the McMillan Group violated the terms of service it agreed to when creating the account, which prohibit the submission of fake reviews.
Yelp argues this breach of the terms of service also violates the contract users sign up to when creating a Yelp.com account. It claims that the firm induced employees to violate Yelp’s terms of service, making them liable for the interference claim.
The false advertising claims are more complex as they are normally filed by consumers but in this case have been levelled by the advertising forum – Yelp.com – as opposed to a client of the firm.
The case comes three years after the McMillan Group, run by Julian McMillan, received a negative rating on Yelp.com which stated: “Would never recommend. Didn’t abide by their own agreement. Communication was very poor.”
McMillan previously sued Yelp after claiming it was coerced into entering an advertisement contract in order to receive favourable reviews. The firm won a small claims award of $2,700 but Yelp successfully claimed the firm’s case was covered by an arbitration clause in the terms of service.
The firm’s online summary on Yelp.com claims: “We are San Diego’s Premier Bankruptcy Law Firm”.
Reviews include: “Julian gave me the best present for Christmas – my peace of mind and freedom,” and “Julian is an exceptional attorney and I am glad that I found him!”