Roca Labs Suffers Defeats In Battle Over 'Gag Clauses'

Weight loss company Roca Labs isn't having the best luck convincing judges to go along with its plan to squelch bad reviews.

On Thursday, a federal judge issued an injunction prohibiting Roca Labs from continuing to tell consumers they are not allowed to post bad reviews of the company's products.

The move came the same week that a different federal judge dismissed Roca Labs' lawsuit against the operators of That ruling stemmed from a lawsuit filed earlier this year by Roca Labs against The weight-loss supplement vendor alleged that wrongly interfered in the relationship between Roca Labs and its consumers by allowing them to post critiques of the company's products.

U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Hernandez Covington in Florida awarded PissedConsumer summary judgment on Wednesday, ruling that the federal Communications Decency Act protects from liability for activity by users.



What's surprising isn't that Roca Labs lost, but that the company thought for even a moment that it could have prevailed, when judgeafter judge has ruled that Web platforms aren't liable for users' posts.

Roca Labs isn't the only company that has tried to suppress reviews by consumers. Another prominent example was KlearGear, which tried to charge the married couple John Palmer and Jennifer Kulas $3,500 for posting a bad review.

KlearGear reportedly said the couple violated a provision in its terms of service by criticizing the company on (That clause apparently was added to the KlearGear's terms of service after the couple tried to place an order.)

When Palmer and Kulas refused to pay KlearGear, the company allegedly wrecked their credit. Palmer and Kulas subsequently sued KlearGear for violating federal fair credit laws. A federal judge awarded the couple $306,750 last July.

California subsequently passed a law that prohibits companies from restricting consumers' right to post reviews.

Earlier this year, a bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced a bill that aims to protect people's right to publicly criticize companies. The Consumer Review Freedom Act of 2015 would prohibit businesses from requiring consumers to sign contracts that restrict their ability to post reviews. The measure was introduced by Representatives Darrell Issa (R-Calif), Eric Swalwell (D-Calif), Blake Farenthold (R-Texas), and Brad Sherman (D-Calif), and is backed by Yelp, Angie's List, TripAdvisor and advocacy groups. The bill provides for penalties of up to $16,000 for each day that a business requires consumers to sign non-disparagement clauses.

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