Roca Labs sues unhappy customer who agreed to testify against it

This is the "non-surgical gastric bypass" company whose terms of service forbid complaining, and require you to let them use any kind of success you experience to publicly endorse the company, who are suing for having a message board where its customers are complaining about its product.

According to one expert witness, Roca sells a sludge made of industrial food thickeners and other stuff that is supposed to fill up your stomach and regulate your eating.

Roca says that since its terms of sale prohibit complaining to anyone, including the Better Business Bureau (it sued a customer who did just that), that anyone who offers a message board where complaints can be posted is engaged in "tortious interference."

It had previously threatened to sue three disgruntled customers who offered to help, and now it's made good on its threat, in one case. Its legal theory is "defamation per se" — it says that since all these customers promised never to complain, that any complaint, whether or not it is grounded in fact, whether or not it is malicious, must be defamatory.

It appears that Roca Labs finally made good on that threat and recently filed a lawsuit against all three individuals in Florida State Court. The lawsuit (pdf), which includes a demand for a temporary injunction, seems destined for federal court rather than state court since none of the defendants are in Florida. Either way, the lawsuit accuses all three of "breaching" the contract by daring to complain to the Better Business Bureau, tortious interference for alerting others to the fact that they didn't like Roca Labs' product and "defamation per se" based on Roca's rather interesting interpretation of defamation law. As we've noted in the past, the gag order in Roca Labs' terms of service does say that if you complain about its product, it will automatically be considered defamation per se, but that's not how "defamation per se" works.

Roca Labs Sues All Three Witnesses Who Came Forward In Its Lawsuit Against PissedConsumer [Mike Masnick/Techdirt]