Lawsuit over Misspelled Phonebook Ad: Valid or Frivolous?

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November 15, 2010 – You’d think with all the spellcheck software and online dictionaries available, typos would be a thing of the past.

Unfortunately, one South Dakota lawyer has learned that even technology can’t account for human error, and his Yellowbook ad is proof of that. Lawyer Manny de Castro placed a half-page ad in the Sioux Falls, S.D. Yellowbook that reads “The Trial Lawyer Fighting For Your Justics”

yellowbook

It’s hard to correct a typo when it’s printed in thousands of books.

Yellowbook did own up to their mistake and admitted to the typo. However, that wasn’t good enough for de Castro who stopped making payments for the $6,780 erroneous ad. Yellowbook didn’t take this lightly and threatened to take him to a collection agency.

The lawyer’s counter-argument is that he’s losing business by having a half-page color ad that starts with a typo-laden header. “When someone looks for a service in the phone book, they’re going to choose the person that knows how to spell,” he claims.

The ad was first spotted in the summer edition of printed Yellowbooks and made an appearance on the Yellowbook website, where it has since been corrected. A lawsuit against Yellowbook was filed by de Castro asking for the price of the ad, lawyer fees, and damages resulting from “humiliation and loss of business.”

The Internet is generally forgiving of spelling errors, as you can normally go in and edit a typo as soon as it’s spotted. With printed media, once those 1000s of Yellowbooks are printed, there’s little to be done to stop the circulation of a misspelled ad.

So now we ask you – if this were your Yellowbook ad, would you file suit? Does this lawyer have a valid complaint and are his claims for damages for loss of business and humiliation reasonable?

Your marketing materials such as print ads, websites, and brochures are the face of your business. Any errors in development from a spelling error to a poorly cut business card edge can make even the most successful company look like a fly-by-night deal.

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