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Craft Beer Stellar, LLC v. Glassdoor, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

October 17, 2018

CRAFT BEER STELLAR, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
GLASSDOOR, INC., Defendant.

          AMENDED MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS

          F. Dennis Saylor, IV United States District Judge.

         This is a dispute concerning reviews of plaintiff Craft Beer Stellar, LLC (“CBS”) that were anonymously posted on the website of defendant Glassdoor Inc., glassdoor.com, between November 2017 and March 2018. CBS has brought suit against Glassdoor and asserts five counts under federal and Massachusetts law.[1] Glassdoor has moved to dismiss all counts pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim. For the reasons stated below, the Court will grant the motion to dismiss.

         I. Background

         Unless otherwise noted, the facts are set forth as alleged in the first amended complaint.

         A. Factual Background

         CBS is a franchisor of craft beer stores known as Craft Beer Cellars. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 12-13). To acquire a Craft Beer Cellar, a prospective franchisee enters into an agreement with CBS and pays CBS a fee. The franchise agreements generally require the franchisee to keep certain CBS proprietary information confidential. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 14-17).

         Glassdoor, Inc. operates a website, www.glassdoor.com, where users can anonymously post comments about their employers. In November 2017, someone identifying himself as an employee of CBS posted a negative review of the Belmont, Massachusetts Craft Beer Cellar on glassdoor.com. (Am. Compl. ¶ 36). Over the next few months, one or more unnamed users identifying themselves as current (or former) employees of CBS continued to post negative reviews of the Belmont store. (Am. Compl. ¶ 36-83). Each of the negative reviews mentioned the co-founder of CBS, Suzanne Schalow.

         On February 13, 2018, Schalow sent an e-mail to Glassdoor asking it “for . . . assistance in reviewing . . . six inappropriate/trolled reviews naming Craft Beer Cellar and myself, Suzanne Schalow.” (Am. Compl. ¶ 85). (Ex. G).

         The following day, February 14, Charlee Colwell, a member of Glassdoor's “Content & Community Team, ” responded to Schalow and informed her that Glassdoor had removed one of the six reviews for its failure to “meet” the website's “Community Guidelines.” (Ex. G).

         A week later, on February 21, Schalow e-mailed Colwell to inform her that the removed review had been “re-posted” and to ask that the review be removed again. (Ex. G). Colwell responded to Schalow the following day and told her that the review would not be removed because it no longer violated the website's guidelines. (Ex. G).[2]

         B. Procedural Background

         CBS has asserted six claims against Glassdoor in its amended complaint: (1) violation of the federal Defend Trade Secrets Act (18 U.S.C. §§ 1836, et seq.); (2) violation of the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, (18 U.S.C. §§ 1030 et seq.); (3) violation of the Massachusetts trade secrets statute (Mass. Gen. Laws. Ch. 93, §§ 42 and 42A); (4) violation of the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act (Mass. Gen. Laws. Ch. 93A, §§ 2 and 11); (5) aiding and abetting John Does 1-20 in various contractual breaches, torts, and other violations; and (6) civil conspiracy.

         On May 25, 2018, CBS filed a stipulation of dismissal without prejudice as to the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act claim. Glassdoor has moved to dismiss the remaining claims under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

         II. ...


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