PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) — In a $5 million defamation complaint, an auto body shop says the Better Business Bureau gave it an F but gave an A-minus to Hamas, because the terrorist group paid membership dues.
Leif’s Auto Collision Centers, in Portland, sued the Better Business Bureau Northwest, its corporate parent, and two top managers in the BBB’s northwest bureau, on Sept. 2 in Multnomah County Court.
The BBB issued a news release in August about the body shop’s F rating, citing 57 complaints against it in the past three years.
Leif’s says those complaints came from 0.04 percent of its customers in that time period: 130,000 of them. It describes itself as “far and away the largest auto collision repair provider in Oregon and potentially the largest in the country,” says it has “fought for Oregon legislation to protect consumers.”
It says the BBB defamed it and tortuously interfered with its business because it refused to pay membership dues.
“In contrast, Hamas (a terrorist group) and other fictitious organizations that conducted no business but paid their dues received an A- or better from the BBB,” the complaint states.
In 2010, the author of the now-defunct website BBBRoundup paid $425 to register Hamas on the Los Angeles BBB as an “accredited business,” and it was listed as an organization for “providing education services to troubled youth,” Mother Jones magazine reported on July 20, 2010.
While Leif’s lawsuit accuses the company of “failing to tell the truth,” in a 2012 lawsuit, a Southern California called the BBB a “Mafia-like racket” designed to favor businesses that submit to its “shakedown” scheme by paying dues.
The body shop seeks $5 million, plus punitive damages, and an injunction ordering the BBB to remove the press release from the Internet.
It is represented by Ryan Bledsoe and Christopher Pallanch of Tonkon Torp.
The individual defendants are the BBBNW’s marketplace manager and its vice president of marketing.
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