Newport Beach, CA (PRWEB) March 28, 2013
The landmark mass-joinder lawsuit filed by Brookstone Law, PC against the Better Business Bureau (BBB) has progressed past initial pleading and as a result will likely start the discovery process and on to trial, it was announced today by Vito Torchia, Jr., Managing Attorney of [Brookstone Law, PC.
"This is an important and significant step in our efforts to protect local businesses and bring to light the practices by the BBB we allege hurt businesses while making profits for the BBB’s National and Los Angeles offices," said Vito Torchia, Jr. "The fact that our case has moved through the difficult initial pleading stage and likely begin the discovery stage makes it highly likely we will go to trial."
The case is Brookstone Law, PC vs. Better Business Bureau of the Southland, Inc., et. al. Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles, Case No. BC497776.
“Since bringing this action to court, Brookstone Law, PC has been contacted by businesses, individuals and law firms representing individuals and businesses solicited by the BBB as part of the “Pay-to-Play” system our lawsuit alleges has been rampant within Los Angeles BBB practices," said Vito Torchia, Jr. “The idea of power in numbers has been used to build sky scrapers, but is it enough to shed light on the deceptive practices that caused the National BBB to finally close the Los Angeles chapter, which we allege have been occurring for some time.”
According to media coverage by The Los Angeles Times on March 12, 2013, the developments in the case are coincidentally occurring at the same time the BBB of the Southland is being expelled from the Ntional BBB organization, losing the right to use the BBB name and logo.
“The BBB in Los Angeles has claimed to be an unbiased public interest organization but the public action of their national organization, as announced by the president of the organization, clearly demonstrate they are not,” said Vito Torchia Jr.
According to the The Los Angeles Times coverage, the Arlington, Va.-based group conducted an investigation of the Los Angeles chapter, examining its alleged "Pay-to-Play" culture and the resulting expulsion comes after a 2010 ABC News report which detailed the group's practice of accrediting new members and awarding them inflated ratings in exchange for cash, and not meeting National BBB standards relating to accreditation, reporting on businesses, and handling complaints.
“Based upon our research, we are actively working to represent those who normally cannot afford expert legal counsel and reaching out to those who have been contacted directly about increasing letter ratings,” said Vito Torchia, Jr.
According to court documents, the lawsuit alleges defamation, deceptive business practices, interference with economic advantage and trade libel. The lawsuit alleges that given its longevity and its ostensible mission, many consumers mistakenly believe BBB is a governmental or quasi-governmental entity and that based on consumer research more than 70% of consumers in the United States believe the BBB is a government organization.
“We allege that operating under a guise of legitimate authority, the BBB has been using bogus ratings at the expense of consumers and businesses,” said Vito Torchia, Jr.
According to the recent media coverage in The Los Angeles Times on March 28, 2013, and partly in response to the lawsuit, the Council of Better Business Bureaus has suspended the Los Angeles chapter, based upon corroborated reports of the “Pay-to-Play” scheme.
"Despite media reports that the local chapter was in violation of the rules of the bureau, our lawsuit alleges the local chapter has created a new company named Better Consumer Alliance(BCA),” said Vito Torchia, Jr. “Although BCA claims that they have no affiliation with the BBB, the content on the BCA website at http://www.businessconsumeralliance.org is identical to the what was displayed on the now-defunct Los Angeles BBB website. We allege that BCA has simply repackaged their practices and branded themselves with a new name."
According to court documents, the lawsuit alleges that after the BBB moved to a letter-grade ratings system in 2005, extensive telemarketing campaigns have significantly increased membership and revenue but the BBB has not disclosed that their ratings are based in part on payment of fees to secure accreditation for member businesses. Specifically, the lawsuit alleges that “A+” ratings are only awarded to accredited businesses, that is, businesses that pay membership fees, and “F” ratings are issued to businesses that do not pay for accreditation.
ABOUT BROOKSTONE LAW, PC
Based in Newport Beach, with offices in Los Angeles, CA, and Ft. Lauderdale, FL, Brookstone Law, PC, is a law firm comprised of attorneys with experience and success in civil litigation, criminal defense, business, corporate, employment, entertainment & media, art & museum, intellectual property and real estate law. The firm employs highly trained specialists, paralegals, paraprofessionals and administrative staff dedicated to serving their clients. For information, call (800) 946-8655 or visit [http://www.brookstonelaw.com.