Nursing Homes Sue Over PI Firm's Ad
A personal injury law firm has been sued by the owners of a nursing home chain prominently mentioned in the law firm’s Web site advertising.
Genesis Healthcare Corp. contends McHugh Fuller Law Group misappropriated its trademark and logo by including these brands on a Web page seeking plaintiffs interested in suing nursing homes, reports the West Virginia Record. The firm’s Internet site currently does not appear to contain any of the company’s marks, although it does at least implicitly refer to Genesis Healthcare as a past–and potential–defendant, and criticizes the care provided by several of its nursing homes. (The site also is named genesisconcerns.com.)
In an amended complaint filed late last month, Genesis alleged trademark infringement and dilution, false advertising and unfair competition. But Jamison Cropp of Bridgeton, W.Va., who is representing the firm, denied these claims in a Sept. 5 responsive pleading. The company’s marks aren’t famous, and there is no likelihood of confusion or any bad-faith intent to profit from the Genesis name, he wrote. He also contended that the complaint seeks to chill McHugh Fuller’s rights of comment and criticism.
“The public interest would be greatly disserved by preventing McHugh Fuller from informing the public about the results of state and federal inspections of Plaintiff’s facilities,” wrote Cropp, arguing that an injunction sought by the company would completely bar the law firm from using the Genesis name. “Defendant could conceivably not even communicate with its current clients who are in litigation with Plaintiff. Applied literally, Defendant’s attorneys could not deliver closing statements in a trial against Plaintiff.”
The case is being heard by U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin in Charleston, W.Va. McHugh Fuller has offices in Charleston, W.Va., and Hattiesburg, Miss.