Phil Cannella, as an insurance and financial professional for almost forty years, has helped tens of thousands of consumers protect themselves against the risks they face as they head into retirement. His Crash Proof Retirement System is a testament to this very mission in that he has devised a means to protect the nest egg of an individual or family from stock market volatility.
Speaking to any of his thousands of clients, you will find a common thread among them all, not one single one lost a penny of principal no matter how much the stock market crashed during the 2007/2008 market collapse. There are testimonials after testimonials that reflect this very sentiment among those he has helped.
Hence it came as a surprise when an anonymous internet defamation campaign was launched against him a few years back. The anonymity was masked through fictitious screen names and to make matter worse, the defamation campaign was anonymous, meaning the people posting were doing so anonymously, under assumed screen names, apparently under the protection of the First Amendment.
In order to get to the bottom of this Phil Cannella filed a lawsuit in federal court and discovered the identities of the main perpetrators behind the attack. One of these individuals was a competitor whose business is in the same geographic region as Phil Cannella’s. Clearly this was a violation of the law not only because of the defamation but also because of unfair business practices.
When the lawsuit was filed, the defendant attempted to dismiss the claims in order to get out of the suit. Fortunately the judge saw through this and disagreed.
Interestingly enough, the judge on the case took a very interesting stance regarding the case and very critically examined the facts. This statement from the judge sheds light on the legal point Phil Cannella was making:
“To assert a false advertising claim under Section 43(a) of the Lanham Act, plaintiff must demonstrate: (1) that the defendant has made false or misleading statements; (2) that there is actual deception or at least a tendency to deceive a substantial portion of the intended audience; (3) that the deception is material in that it is likely to influence purchasing decisions; (4) that the advertised goods traveled in interstate commerce; and (5) that there is a likelihood of injury to the plaintiff. Ditri v. Coldwell Banker, 954 F.2d 869, 872 (3d Cir. 1992) (citing U.S. Healthcare, Inc. v. Blue Cross of Gr. Philadelphia, 898 F.2d 914, 922-23) (3d Cir. 1990).
Phil Cannella’s legal team documented how the actions against him were a violation of the Lanham Act and the judge concurred with this opinion. From a legal standpoint this was a significant decision for the judge could have potentially dismissed all or much of the case from the inception, but instead he recognized that adequate evidence was included to show that there may well have been violations of federal laws involved and hence let the case move forward.
Phil Cannella stood his ground to uphold justice. Despite the challenges he faced he was determined to stand strong and he wielded the sword of truth in order to get to and discover the truth. His legal team put together a very compelling case and a well-documented response to the defendant’s motion to dismiss.
The judge ruled on these relevant motions in a very apt fashion:
“The Moving Defendants argue that Plaintiffs have failed to sufficiently plead a Section 43(a) Lanham Act claim as (1) Plaintiffs have not pled a ‘false claim;’ (2) Plaintiffs failed to plead that the Moving Defendants’ activities were undertaken ‘in commerce;’ (3) Plaintiffs failed to plead that the Moving Defendants’ statements were ‘commercial advertising or promotion;’ and (4) Plaintiffs failed to plead that their damages were causally related to the Moving Defendants’ conduct. (Motion, pp. 36-37 (Doc. No. 171)). The Moving Defendants’ motion to dismiss the Lanham Act violations will be denied.”
“Plaintiffs have pled facts that sufficiently demonstrate that the Moving Defendants’ statements were false or misleading.”
This was a significant statement from the judge and acknowledged that Phil Cannella was not alone in his opinion that the actions of the competitors violated the law. As of today, Phil Cannella is pressing on to seek full justice from the law to get the remedies he feels he so strongly deserves. At the end of the day it is all about what is right for the consumer, not what is right for one financial advisor or another. Phil Cannella has repeatedly demonstrated that he stands by the consumer and this is one of the primary reasons he has pushed for justice and a transparency of conduct.