A Wilton-based attorney has filed a federal lawsuit against a marketing company claiming its website contains false advertising that makes it appear to be run by attorneys.
The civil lawsuit, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Connecticut by attorney Sergei Lemberg of Lemberg Law, claims the owners of eGenerationMarketing are “engaging in a false, misleading and deceptive advertising campaign, which directly impacts consumers in the Connecticut market, and elsewhere.” Lemberg said a big part of his practice is representing clients in Fair Debt Collection Practices Act cases, and that the Boston marketing firm is taking away business.
The lawsuit notes that §7.2 of the Connecticut Rules of Professional Conduct, which is part of the state bar’s Practice Book, says, “Any advertisement or communication made pursuant to this rule shall include the name of at least one lawyer admitted in Connecticut responsible for its content.” The marketing firm cites one Michigan-based attorney.
The bottom of the homepage of eGenerationMarketing’s website, www.stopcollections.org, has a disclaimer stating: “This is an attorney advertisement—not an attorney referral service.”
Lemberg said the company’s disclaimer is not sufficient.
“A reasonable viewer of the website who looks at everything—including the language and the visuals—would, at the minimum, be confused and likely led to believe that these folks will be providing legal services themselves,” Lemberg said. “That is not the case. It takes a lot to be a lawyer, and when you advertise online like this, you are competing against real lawyers. They are, in effect, taking away a percentage of the viewership of people who are searching for these kinds of services from real lawyers.”
The lawsuit claims the company attracts “unsuspecting consumers to their website, then sells the leads to participating lawyers.”
Lemberg said he was approached by eGenerationMarketing to be a participating attorney in December, but declined. His lawsuit seeks a preliminary injunction enjoining the company from any further advertising in Connecticut. Lemberg is also seeking monetary and punitive damages.
The lawsuit cites violations of the Lanham Act related to false advertising and violations of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act.
EGenerationMarketing did not have an attorney listed on the lawsuit as of Friday. Company President Christopher Iannella and Chief Executive Officer Daniel Mummolo did not respond to requests for comment.