False Advertising Claims Against Expedia Headed to Trial

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A building housing Expedia is seen in Bellevue, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) — Expedia must face a bench trial on claims that it falsely advertised certain hotels as “sold out” to drum up business for inns and guesthouses that pay for its online booking services, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

“There are genuine disputes of fact regarding whether Expedia’s conduct violated the false advertising prohibitions of the Lanham Act,” U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria wrote in a 6-page ruling.

Buckeye Tree Lodge and Sequoia Village Inn sued Expedia and its affiliated travel websites in August 2016, claiming the online booking giant targeted consumers who searched for hotels it could not book with deceptive ads on Google, Twitter and Facebook. Expedia was accused of listing fake phone numbers for those hotels and falsely labeling them as booked up, a practice the company says was the result of “technical errors” that have since been corrected.

Last year, Chhabira certified a nationwide class of hotels seeking damages for Expedia’s allegedly deceptive business practices.

Both Expedia and the plaintiffs sought summary judgment in the case, which could have allowed either side to prevail without a trial.

Chhabria found …

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