California bill takes aim at restrictions on consumer speech

Seeking to protect California consumers from the type of "non-disparagement clause" infamously wielded against John and Jen Palmer in the KlearGear case, California Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez has introduced a bill to ban contractual fine print that restricts consumers' ability to share feedback about the companies with whom they do business. Good stuff.

Meanwhile, what has become of KlearGear? The company failed to show up in court to defend itself from the Palmers' lawsuit for violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act and Utah tort law, so we've filed a motion for default judgment, which is currently pending. Astonishingly, in spite of the negative publicity the company has received (see, for instance, here, here, and here), KlearGear has put its non-disparagement clause — which threatens users of its website with a $3500 penalty for speaking ill of the company — back in its terms of use. This development underscores the importance of obtaining and collecting a judgment in the case to deter other bad actors and the importance of bills like that in California to ban non-disparagement clauses and other attempts to punish consumers for their speech. Let's hope legislators in other states follow the lead of Speaker Pérez.