ATLANTA, GA (WALB) - The Supreme Court of Georgia has reversed a Colquitt County court ruling that prohibited a law firm from running advertisements soliciting cases against a nursing home in Moultrie.
Justice David Nahmias wrote for a unanimous court that the single advertisement challenged in the lawsuit did not violate Georgia's trademark 'anti-dilution' statute.
The McHugh Fuller Law Group, a Mississippi-based law firm that specializes in nursing home abuse, began running a statewide advertisement campaign in Georgia against PruittHealth, Inc., aimed at people who "suspect that a loved one was neglected or abused" at one of its nursing homes.
One of the advertisements, which ran on March 15, 2015 in the Moultrie Observer, was a full-page color ad directed at the PruittHealth-Moultrie nursing home. The ad included PruittHealth's service marks and trade names, as well as bold-faced words such as 'Bedsores,' 'Broken Bones,' 'Unexplained Injuries,' and 'Death.'
PruittHealth sued under the trademark anti-dilution statute.
"Today's opinion points out that McHugh Fuller was advertising its legal services to individuals who suspect that their loved ones have been harmed by negligent or abusive nursing home services at a specific PruittHealth nursing home," the opinion says.
"The ad did not attempt to link PruittHealth's marks directly to McHugh Fuller's own goods or services. McHugh Fuller was advertising what it sells – legal services, which are neither unwholesome nor degrading – under its own trade name, service mark, and logo, each of which appears in the challenged ad."
"If PruittHealth believes that McHugh Fuller's advertisements are untruthful or deceptive, the company must seek relief under some other statutory or common-law cause of action," said the court.