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Shipyard Brewing Co., LLC v. Logboat Brewing Co., LLC

United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Central Division

December 29, 2017

SHIPYARD BREWING COMPANY, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
LOGBOAT BREWING COMPANY, LLC, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          NANETTE K. LAUGHREY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Defendant Logboat Brewing Company moves to dismiss Count V of the Amended Complaint for failure to state a claim. Doc. 39. Plaintiff Shipyard Brewing Company, LLC opposes the motion, but asks in the alternative for leave to amend. For the reasons discussed below, Logboat's motion to dismiss Count V is granted in part, and Shipyard is granted seven days from the date of this Order in which to file an amended Count V.

         I. Background

         Shipyard alleges that it is a craft brewery with registered trademarks that it uses in connection with its goods and services, most notably, its varieties of beer. Count V is a claim for defamation against Logboat. Shipyard alleges in the “Facts” section of the Amended Complaint:

33. Shortly [after filing this lawsuit on May 15, 2017], one star reviews begin appearing on Shipyard's Facebook page from Facebook members living in or near Columbia, Missouri. Most of the comments referenced the lawsuit. All of the comments directed negative sentiments towards Shipyard. One of the commenters appears to be a relative of Logboat co-founder Judson Ball.
34. Presently, 193 comments appear on Shipyard's Facebook page. Of those, 189 comments are of the nature described above.
35. Upon information and belief, Logboat, through its principals or its agents acting at the encouragement of and for the benefit of its principals, made defamatory statements concerning Shipyard to members of the general public as retribution for Shipyard filing suit.
36. The hundreds of one star reviews on Shipyard's Facebook page, as well as negative articles in the press, are a result of Logboat's actions.
37. Such defamatory statements include, but are not limited to, suggestions that Shipyard is pursuing this lawsuit for ulterior motives, unsubstantiated claims that Shipyard is a trademark bully, and general insults concerning Shipyard's business and the quality of its beers.

Doc. 38, p. 9. Under “Count V-Defamation, ” Shipyard alleges:

82. Logboat, through its principals, or its agents acting at the encouragement of and for the benefit of its principals, made defamatory statements as described herein concerning Shipyard to members of the general public as retribution for Shipyard filing suit.
83. Logboat was at fault for making such statements.
84. Such statements tended to expose Shipyard to hatred, contempt, or ridicule, or to deprive Shipyard the benefit of public confidence, as evidenced in the hundreds of one star reviews on Shipyard's Facebook page.
85. Logboat's statements were heard by members of the general public in and around Logboat's location ...

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