State Supreme Court takes on law firm ads targeting nursing homes

Law firms running advertisements against specific nursing homes was debated in the Georgia Supreme Court Wednesday.

The law firm, Mississippi-based McHugh Fuller Law Group, specializes in nursing home abuse cases. Last year the firm began a statewide advertising campaign in Georgia against PruittHealth, Inc., which operates 90 skilled nursing and assisted living facilities in the Southeast U.S.

The ad campaign used PruittHealth's logo and name, along with photos of one of its Georgia facilities, and requested people contact the firm if they “suspect that a loved one was NEGLECTED or ABUSED” or experienced “bedsores,” “unexplained injuries,” and “death” in boldface red font.

PruittHealth sued the firm under the George Deceptive Trade Practices Act, which allows courts to order people to stop using a company's name or trademark without permission, according to a summary of the case. The act authorizes injunctions if there is even a “likelihood” that use of a company's trademark or name will injure the reputation of the owner, or dilute its name or trademark.

McHugh Fuller is requesting the Supreme Court to vacate a lower court's injunction barring them from running targeted ads in the future. The firm won a similar appeal in the Supreme Court last May, after it received a similar injunction for running ads featuring another PruittHealth facility.