Sanctioned Florida attorney files lawsuit claiming defamation; Avvo will defend its First Amendment rights to provide information and guidance for consumers
Seattle, Wash — Avvo, Inc. (www.avvo.com), the world’s largest legal directory, announced today that St. Petersburg, FL attorney Larry Joe Davis Jr., has sued Avvo for defamation.
Mr. Davis’ free Avvo Profile, which includes an editorial Avvo Rating of 3.7 “Caution,” is impacted by the fact that he was reprimanded and placed on probation by the Florida Bar in 2007 after twice being found guilty of willfully refusing to pay court-ordered child support, failing to appear for his court dates and willfully obstructing the Bar’s disciplinary process.
This lawsuit is not the first time a sanctioned lawyer has attempted to use a lawsuit to keep Avvo from providing consumers with greater transparency regarding lawyers and their professional conduct. In June 2007, only nine days after the website’s launch, Avvo was sued by John Henry Browne, a sanctioned Seattle lawyer. That case was quickly dismissed by the United States District Court in Seattle in a published decision strongly upholding Avvo’s First Amendment right to publish information and its opinions about lawyers.
“We will not be bullied into censoring important information. Our mission, since day one, has been to provide more information and better guidance for consumers seeking help with legal matters. We are well known for being the only website to offer both high *and* low editorial ratings in our Avvo Rating for attorneys. The reality is that not every lawyer has a perfect background,” said Mark Britton, Founder and CEO of Avvo. “By publishing sanction information in particular, we are shining a flashlight in some very dark corners of the legal industry, and some are not going to like that. But consumers want this level of transparency and, as already decided in the Federal courts, Avvo and similar rating systems enjoy First Amendment protection in giving consumers what they want and deserve.”
Avvo intends to vigorously defend the lawsuit, which was filed on August 26, 2010 in Circuit Court in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Read the full complaint here: http://avvoblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/Another-Sanctioned-Lawyer-Sues-Avvo.pdf
Avvo is the only free website that empowers consumers to handle their legal matters with confidence. Avvo offers ratings and profiles for 90% of U.S. lawyers, as well as client reviews, peer reviews and attorney disciplinary records. Avvo also offers the world’s largest question and answer forum where people can ask real attorneys – anonymously if desired – any legal question and receive personalized answers. Additionally, Avvo Legal Guides are a resource of lawyer-generated best practices for consumers seeking guidance on their legal issues. The website currently covers all 50 states and in the United States and the District of Columbia. Founded in early 2006 and launched in 2007, Avvo is privately held, with funding from private investors, Benchmark Capital, Ignition Partners and DAG Ventures. For more information, visit www.avvo.com.