Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Un-Judgment Day and grounds for false advertising

Harold Camping's end-of-times prediction failed again and now people are wondering -- can we sue Family Radio for false advertising claims?

While the efforts to spread the "word" in the Philippines were limited to banners and bus wraps, there was as much buzz about the Judgment Day among the Filipinos as there was anywhere else in the world. As the world anticipated for the "beginning of the end" (mostly for mockery, some to debunk, and little few to encourage it), Twitter trended with #endoftheworldconfessions, #iftheworldendsonsaturday and #antesdelfindelmundo, among many others.

Unfortunately for Camping's believers, Judgment Day did happen...here on good ol' earth and unbelievers had a field day about it. With the millions of dollars spent to advertise the event that did not happen, can Family Radio be sued for false advertising?

An excerpt from Can We Sue the Rapture People for False Advertising? by Tim Nudd:
"To be safe they should have put some disclaimers on the billboards—like 'Date subject to change without notice,' 'Additional terms and conditions apply. See Bible for complete details. On a serious note, it would be difficult to bring a lawsuit against the advertisers unless they deliberately were trying to deceive the general public for their own financial gain (e.g., to get more donations). ... But it appears that these people sincerely believed that the Rapture was supposed to happen on Saturday; they weren't trying to trick anyone. At worse it was a wrong prediction."

It's clearly a disputable matter and definitely one to watch should there be a case filed.

The legal definition of false advertising:

To establish that an advertisement is false, a plaintiff must prove five things:
(1) a false statement of fact has been made about the advertiser's own or another person's goods, services, or commercial activity;

(2) the statement either deceives or has the potential to deceive a substantial portion of its targeted audience;

(3) the deception is also likely to affect the purchasing decisions of its audience;

(4) the advertising involves goods or services in interstate commerce; and

(5) the deception has either resulted in or is likely to result in injury to the plaintiff.

What do you think?