Meyerkord & Kurth Makes New Missouri Case Law: False Light

"Meyerkord & Kurth, a Legacy of Legal Innovation"

There’s a rarely-used cause of action in tort law called false light. It means that information is published about a person which falsely casts him or her in a certain light. Few lawyers are familiar with it, but they should be: computers and the Internet are beginning to make it more relevant than ever before. The St. Louis personal injury law firm of Meyerkord & Kurth pioneered this new claim in Missouri.

In a recent Missouri case, a man was falsely associated with a website which advertised the Sony Playstation Portable video game system. The website was designed to look like the work of an amateur, though it was professionally made: the site’s slipshod look was meant to create the impression that widespread buzz existed around the Sony product, so much so that people were designing their own websites about it.

The marketing company responsible for the campaign had failed to update its online professional directory before launching the site and a former employee was credited with creating it (though he’d left the company long before). That misleading association stuck: the former employee was denounced across the Internet for appearing to have been connected to the misleading campaign. As a result, his reputation was damaged. For a man in marketing and sales, reputation is very important.

Trial courts originally declined to hear the case, accusing the plaintiff’s lawyers of failing to make a real claim, but the Court of Appeals took it up and decided that false light was, in fact, a real tort and that the former employee, who brought the suit as plaintiff, had suffered a real injury. The fact that the case was originally dismissed at the trial level shows how unfamiliar legal professionals, including judges, are with false light. But they shouldn’t be: the Internet is making it more possible, and more likely, than ever before that people’s reputations will be damaged once they’ve been incorrectly associated with something online. For people whose business can depend on their reputations, damaging online associations can be dangerous.

Meyerkord & Kurth is not only familiar with this reemerging tort; our attorneys have been involved in false light cases already, helping to push ahead and define this type of tort law as technology makes it more applicable every day.

In today’s digital environment, the choice of an experienced, knowledgeable attorney is more important than ever. When it comes to cases involving technology, it’s essential to choose a lawyer who understands what’s at issue in the Internet age and how the law affects those issues. Meyerkord & Kurth is dedicated to engaging with both existing and developing technologies on behalf of our clients, from the types of cases we’re equipped to handle to the ways in which we keep our clients up-to-date: our clients can reach us anytime, any day, by e-mail, landline, cell phone, or text message. The impact of the Internet on our lives is growing every day; it’s important that lawyers understand that impact and represent their clients accordingly.

If you would like more information on false light, please contact the St. Louis personal injury law firm Meyerkord & Kurth.

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