(1)Where a window-installation business brought claims of libel, slander and tortious interference with a business expectancy against the Better Business Bureau of Greater St. Louis, the trial court’s dismissal of the claims with prejudice is affirmed because factual statements in a BBB report on the business were not actionable since they were either true or capable of a non-defamatory meaning.
(2)Where the Better Business Bureau gave a rating of “C” to a local business, neither the nature of the information provided nor the language of the BBB’s website would lead a reasonable person to believe that the rating was a statement of fact and the rating could not be proven true or false, so a defamation action by the business was properly dismissed since the court finds that the BBB rating is protected as opinion by the First Amendment, and qualified opinion was not at issue.
(3)Where a business brought an action for tortious interference with a business expectancy against the Better Business Bureau after receiving an unfavorable rating, the claim was based in part on publication of the BBB report, and because the plaintiff’s defamation claim failed, the tortious interference claim also failed since the plaintiff cannot establish an absence of justification as a matter of law and the plaintiff also failed to plead facts showing an absence of justification with regard to its resignation from the BBB.
Judgment is affirmed.
Castle Rock Remodeling, LLC v. Better Business Bureau of Greater St. Louis, Inc. (MLW No. 62915/Case No. ED96214 – 19 pages) (Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District, Dowd Jr., P.J.) Appealed from circuit court, St. Louis County, De Priest Jr., J. (Al W. Johnson for appellant) (Joseph E. Martineau for respondent).
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