(CN) – Exotic cat breeders in Missouri lost their bid to revive defamation claims against an Internet service provider and two people who allegedly complained about their breeding service on ComplaintsBoard.com.
Susan and Robert Johnson, owners of a breeding service called Cozy Kittens Cattery, claimed that Colorado cat breeder Kathleen Heineman and a disgruntled Californian named Melanie Lowry posted defamatory statements on the complaint website.
They said Lowry’s posts falsely asserted that the Johnsons “had sold a breeder cat without providing the papers, offered a refund but refused to pay it, stolen money from their customers, and fed their cats Tylenol, causing them to suffer horrible deaths and pre-death injuries,” according to the ruling.
Lowry said she never did business with the Johnsons and does not know them.
Heineman, who has purchased cats for the Johnsons and ad space on their website, CozyKittens.com, said she never posted anything about the Missouri cat breeders on ComplaintsBoard.com or any other site.
Lowry and Heineman asked a federal judge to dismiss the claims for lack of jurisdiction, arguing that they don’t have any ties to Missouri, business or otherwise.
The judge agreed, and the 8th Circuit in St. Louis upheld the decision.
The 8th Circuit also backed dismissal of the claims against InMotion Hosting, the Internet service provider (ISP) for ComplaintsBoard.com.
The Communications Decency Act shields ISP hosts from lawsuits over online content.
“Because InMotion was merely an ISP host and not an information content provider, the Johnsons’ claims against InMotion fail as a matter of law,” Judge Lavenski Smith wrote for the three-judge panel.