Lawyer kicked off LinkedIn for alleged self-promotional posts loses appeal of consumer fraud case
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A New Jersey appeals court has affirmed the dismissal of a lawyer’s lawsuit against LinkedIn for kicking him off the platform.
But the appeals court is giving Edison, New Jersey, lawyer Kenneth Vercammen a chance to refile his claim in California, as required by a forum selection clause. LinkedIn’s headquarters is located in the state.
Vercammen’s premium LinkedIn account was suspended in December 2019 for alleged violation of its user agreement and publishing platform guidelines, according to the appeals court’s opinion.
The company terminated Vercammen’s account the next month and refunded the balance of his subscription fee after warning him multiple times that he was violating company policies, the appeals court said.
LinkedIn had claimed in court papers that Vercammen’s 15 or more posts per day were intended to advertise his business because they included contact information, according to Law.com.
LinkedIn said the posts violated its publishing guidelines, which state that promotions for services “aren’t appropriate content for article publishing.” Vercammen could have purchased ads on LinkedIn, but he didn’t do so, the company said.
Vercammen sued, alleging breach of warranty, negligence, common law fraud and consumer fraud. The trial judge tossed the case, citing a forum selection clause that required the case to be filed in California.
Vercammen claimed that he didn’t have reasonable notice of the terms of the user agreement, including the forum selection clause.
Vercammen had agreed to a “sign-in-wrap agreement” that contained a “noticeable hyperlink” to the user agreement and terms of service, the appeals court said. A sign-in-wrap agreement advises users that they agree to terms of service when they register or sign up.
The appeals court said the forum selection clause in the agreement was valid, and the trial judge didn’t err by tossing Vercammen’s suit for failure to comply.
The appeals court also held that Vercammen failed to state a sufficient claim for common law or statutory fraud.
Vercammen had alleged that LinkedIn knowingly concealed material facts, but his suit didn’t specify what LinkedIn concealed or omitted. The general allegation is insufficient, the appeals court said.
His lawsuit also lacked details to establish fraud under New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act, the appeals court said.
Vercammen spoke with Law.com about the case.
“On Facebook, some people post 10 photos a day of what they’re eating for lunch and their cats. If I knew there was a rule, I would have complied with it. All the big companies hide their stuff,” Vercammen said.
Vercammen told Law.com that he hadn’t yet decided whether to refile in California.