This case began with a leaky head gasket. Our client was a truck driver who needed his Peterbilt 289 semi-truck to run smoothly for his work. After doing some research, he found a product that seemed like it would fix his problems: Blue Devil Head Gasket Sealer (TM). This product was advertised as an effective solution to leaking head gaskets and cracked heads. You can see a picture of the bottle here:
So he called the company and bought a few bottles and applied them in accordance with their instructions.
But unfortunately for my client, his engine broke down shortly afterward. He retained our firm to sue the manufacturer for false advertising. Specifically, the lawsuit alleges that the product was not, in fact, “SAFE FOR ENGINES,” despite what the label says, and that it didn’t fix his head gasket or anything else. Rather, the lawsuit alleges, the head gasket sealer clogged up his entire engine with a sticky black gunk. The engine was completely disabled, and had to be extensively repaired. The entire engine block had to be removed and soaked in a powerful solvent to clean out the gunk.
Alabama’s false advertising law, the Alabama Deceptive Trade Practices Act, is limited in its application, but when it applies, can be a powerful remedy for consumers who have suffered financial harm as a result of false advertising. Not only does the Alabama Deceptive Trade Practices Act require a business found liable for false advertising to pay direct compensation for the actual harm caused to the consumer, but it also allows the Court to award treble damages – three times the amount of actual damages. And best of all, it requires the business to pay the consumer’s attorneys’ fees. Given that many false advertising claims involve relatively small amounts of money, the attorneys’ fee-shifting provision ensures that false advertisers don’t get away with it. Otherwise, businesses would be able to falsely advertise as much as they wanted as long as they only sold cheap products. The public policy behind the ADTPA is exactly the opposite: we want fewer cheap junk products in our market, and we want sellers of goods to stand behind their advertisements.
The law firm of Judson E. Crump, PC handles false advertising cases. If you or someone you know has been harmed by false advertising, feel free to call our office at 251-272-9148, or submit a comment below and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.