Litigation » California’s “Right To Gripe” Law Spurs Class Action Lawsuits

California’s “Right To Gripe” Law Spurs Class Action Lawsuits

January 9, 2024

California’s “Right To Gripe” Law Spurs Class Action Lawsuits

Consumer service and product companies operating online in California should be aware of the numerous consumer class actions recently filed referencing a customer’s right to make statements about their experience with a seller under California Civil Code § 1670.8, according to an article by Crowell.

The complaints suggest that the defendants may have prohibited, limited, or created barriers to leaving negative reviews. Likewise, the defendants may have also altered, removed, or made published negative reviews inaccessible. 

The direct claims quote contractual provisions in the websites’ terms of use that allegedly discourage or disallow negative reviews.

Civil Code § 1670.8 has been called “the right to gripe law.” Among its provisions are:

(a)(1) A contract or proposed contract for the sale or lease of consumer goods or services may not include a provision waiving the consumer’s right to make any statement regarding the seller or lessor or its employees or agents, or concerning the goods or services.

(2) It shall be unlawful to threaten or to seek to enforce a provision made unlawful under this section, or to otherwise penalize a consumer for making any statement protected under this section.

(b) Any waiver of the provisions of this section is contrary to public policy and is void and unenforceable.

Violations are subject to civil penalties of up to $2,500 for the first violation. Penalties for willful violations can be up to $10,000 per violation. The statute explicitly states that civil penalties are not the exclusive remedy for violations, which allows class action plaintiffs to seek other remedies.

Companies operating online in California should review their consumer review policies and web page terms of use in view of these lawsuits.

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