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Earlier this week a jury awarded $1.6 million to a couple in Oregon that claimed that they found a rather unscrupulous plastic surgeon in their local Yellow Pages. Odd, I thought there was something about "buyer beware" that applied to all transactions between buyers and sellers.

You begin to wonder if the couple – and the awarding jury – are watching too many of those makeover shows on television. We're not talking about selecting a dry cleaner to press some clothes or picking a dentist who is into to the latest teeth- whitening fad.

We're talking about serious surgery that requires considerable skill and experience. Using the Yellow Pages or any local online information service is not some new version of "pin the tail on the donkey" – it is serious business and requires the buyer to conduct sufficient research and due dilligence beyond the claims listed in a print YP ad or on a website. How about asking a friend or two – or imagine this – asking for references?

Those jurors now ought to use the Yellow Pages or a local search engine to find a good psychiatrist to get their heads examined . . . but beware . . . perhaps they'll call someone and end up with nothing but a "shrink".

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. The $1.6 million jury award was unconscionable.

    The mistake made by DEX certainly appears to be an honest one. The doctor WAS board certified in one specialty, but he was not board certified in liposuction where the ad appeared.

    I would bet that the DEX contract required the advertiser to provide factual information, and I am not aware of any publisher that contacts the state boards to ensure that every advertiser is in fact board certified.

    Is it the responsibility of the YP publisher to verify every claim in every ad? I think not.

    The doctor was responsible for providing accurate information as to his background and training to his patients.

    I hope that DEX appeals and goes before a jury than has not had cranial liposuction.

  2. Cases like this are awarded as a deterrent. If the judge doesn’t think DEX is doing enough to check their client’s purported Yellow Page claims, the potential for more mayhem in the future is immense. If you slap a company like DEX with a 100,000 judgment you might not even get a company memo out to all the Yellow Page Reps. 1.6 million makes an impression. Not that it’s always fair, just, or moral, but that is the legal reasoning.

  3. I would hope that such obligations are spelled out for the YP Group and that the oversite was a clear violation.

    Verdicts are overturned in a huge percentage of cases.

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