Lawsuit Against Google Over Pine-Sol Ad Withdrawn

A Massachusetts resident has dropped her class-action complaint against Google over an allegedly deceptive ad for Pine-Sol cleaner.

Counsel for Judith Golditch, who sued Google in June, filed a “notice of voluntary dismissal” last week with U.S. District Court in Massachusetts. The papers didn't give a reason for the decision.

The move appears to bring an end to a legal battle over a Google Shopping ad that allegedly said Pine-Sol kills “99.9% of germs.”

That ad allegedly linked to an Instacart site, which allows people to make purchases through retailers.

Golditch claimed in her original complaint that the ad “gives the misleading impression” that using Pine-Sol will prevent COVID-19 and other viruses.

Google's “false, deceptive and misleading marketing and sale of the product has enabled defendants to sell more of the product than they would have in the absence defendants’ misconduct,” the complaint stated.

Google's Shopping ads are created based on material submitted by advertisers.

Harvard Law School professor Rebecca Tushnet, an expert in advertising law, told MediaPost in June that Google has a strong defense under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. She said judges have previously ruled that online companies that offer tools allowing third parties to create ads aren't responsible for the content of those ads.

In 2008, Google prevailed in a separate lawsuit over allegedly fraudulent ringtone ads. In that case, a federal judge in San Jose ruled that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act immunizes Google from liability for pay-per-click ads created through its ad platform.

"Providing third parties with neutral tools to create web content is considered to be squarely within the protections of (the law)," the judge wrote at the time. "Even if a service provider knows that third parties are using such tools to create illegal content, the service's provider's failure to intervene is immunized."

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