In a closely watched test of legal solicitations, a 6th District Court of Appeal panel ruled Wednesday that a San Francisco Bay Area attorney seeking potential class action plaintiffs did not defame a Pleasanton, Calif., nail manufacturer.

Simpson Strong-Tie Co. sued Ben Pierce Gore for defamation in February 2006 after the Campbell, Calif., lawyer ran newspaper ads looking for owners of wood decks that used galvanized screws made by Simpson and two other companies. The ads stated that those owners might “be entitled to monetary compensation” or free repairs and gave the name and phone number of the Gore law office. It appears no suit was ever filed, according to the court.

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