Angie’s List Class Action Has Teeth, Judge Says

     PHILADELPHIA (CN) – Angie’s List must face claims from a woman who says it suppressed negative reviews on a contractor who bilked her, a federal judge ruled.
     Janell Moore claims she paid the contractor, Bravo Philadelphia, $4,000 to remodel her kitchen after seeing positive reviews on Angie’s List. The contractor did not finish the work and refused to refund her money, she says.
     After leaving a negative review for Bravo on the site, she claims she was suddenly able to see scores of negative remarks that had previously been concealed. She claims that, had she seen the reviews, she never would have hired the contractor.
     Moore alleges that Angie’s List representatives did not cite any technological error of the site.
     In its membership agreement and its FAQ section, the company purports to rank service providers based solely on the reviews given by customers, not by any payment to the company, she notes.
     After Moore relayed the event to an electrician he knew, however, he allegedly told her that “he pays ‘to be at the top’ of search results.”
     With Moore hoping to represent a class of similarly situated consumers, U.S. District Judge Stewart Dalzell found Friday that she has standing to proceed with her counts of fraud and unfair trade practices.
     The 28-page ruling says Moore’s allegations and the electrician’s substantiation of her suspicions “inject precision and some measure of substantiation into Moore’s allegations of fraud by spelling out circumstances that contradict certain Angie’s List representations, including that service providers cannot influence their ratings and that businesses do not pay to be on Angie’s List.”
     Dismissing Moore’s counts of unjust enrichment and breach of contract, however, Dalzell found that the user contract made no such promises as to the validity of the reviews, and that the existence of a contract itself was sufficient to nullify the unjust enrichment claim.

%d bloggers like this: