Be Careful What Your Business Puts in Catalogs and Brochures
A string of recent federal cases reminds us that businesses and institutions need to be careful what they put in brochures and catalogs describing services and products.
Over the last year, a number of colleges and universities have switched to on-line classes. In Doe vs Bradley University, a class action complaint relied on the University’s course catalogs and related documents to show that students were promised an “in-person, on-campus” class experience.
Not long ago, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a contractual relationship exists between a university and its students and “the terms of the contract are generally set forth in the school’s catalogs and bulletins.” DiPerna v. Chicago School of Professional Psychology, 893 F.3d 1001 (7th Cir. 2018).
As precedent, DiPerna now serves as the platform for lawsuits. More recently, several lawsuits filed by students seek refunds on a huge scale based on restrictions limiting in-person, on-campus classes: New York, Ford v. Renselaer Polytechnic; Florida, Rosado v. Barry University; Massachusetts, Chong v. Northeastern University.
The reasoning of these federal cases carries over to businesses as well, and businesses will be targets of class-action lawsuits where catalogs and brochures provide a basis.
Catalogs and brochures are written by people knowledgeable about business, marketing, sales, products and services. Good attorneys know how to balance legal concerns with the need to advertise your wares and succeed in business.
Lawsuits are easily avoided with a little “homework” involving simple disclaimers and a review of the catalogs and brochures.
It is always the changes you don’t expect that can change everything. If you have questions about your catalogs and brochures, please let us know.
image cred: https://www.campussafetymagazine.com/