Ripoff Report Gets Another 47 USC 230 Dismissal–Herman v. Xcentric

By Eric Goldman

Herman v. Xcentric Ventures, LLC, 1:10-cv-00398-CAP (N.D. Ga. Feb. 14, 2011)

This is a run-of-the-mill lawsuit against the Ripoff Report by an unhappy vendor. Herman is a lawyer (once again, the dreaded lawyer-as-plaintiff) unhappy with a posted report from a client alleging bad service. The court churns it out in a brief and workmanlike opinion.

Quoting from Ripoff Report’s summary judgment motion, the opinion says:

Since the CDA was enacted in 1996, every state and federal court that has considered the merits of a claim against the Ripoff Report has, without exception, agreed that Xcentric and Magedson are entitled to immunity under the CDA for statements posted by third-party users.

I know some plaintiff attorneys will look at that language as a thrilling challenge–NOT YET, they think. However, every Ripoff Report plaintiff should anticipate having this language cited against them.

Continuing to borrow liberally from Ripoff Report’s motion, the opinion addresses two common contentions in Ripoff Report 230 litigation:

* the fact that the Ripoff Report added some components to its web page does not make Ripoff Report responsible for user-supplied portions. The court says “Because the defendants only created the generic portions of the Ripoff Report website and did not create or alter any part of the report about the plaintiffs, the CDA applies to bar the plaintiffs’ claims regarding the report and title at issue here.”

* the “Ripoff Report” branding does not communicate anything about each individually profiled company. The court says “no reasonable reader would believe that the application of the term “Ripoff Report” implies the existence of any facts beyond those contained in the specific reports appearing on the defendants’ website. The plaintiffs cannot defeat the robust immunity of the CDA by trying to creatively plead around it.”

This is a super win for the Ripoff Report and another sign that courts just don’t want to hear the plaintiffs’ arguments (no matter how creative/desperate) trying to put the Ripoff Report on the hook for user postings. I remain amazed how at many plaintiffs take on the Ripoff Report despite this unfavorable dynamic.

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