General Steel Domestic Sales v. Chumley, No. 15-1293 (10th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
This case involved a dispute between two competing prefabricated steel building companies in Colorado. Defendants-Appellants Atlantic Building Systems, LLC d/b/a Armstrong Steel Corporation and its CEO, Ethan Chumley (collectively, “Armstrong Steel”), appealed the district court’s denial of immunity under the Communications Decency Act (“CDA”). The underlying dispute involved Armstrong Steel’s negative online advertising campaign against General Steel. When internet users searched for “General Steel,” negative advertisements from Armstrong Steel would appear on the results page. Clicking on the advertisements would direct users to Armstrong Steel’s web page entitled, “Industry Related Legal Matters” (“IRLM Page”). General Steel brought four claims: (1) unfair competition and unfair trade practices under the Lanham Act, (2) libel and libel per se, (3) intentional interference with prospective business advantage, and (4) civil conspiracy. Armstrong Steel sought summary judgment, claiming immunity from suit and liability under Section 230 of the CDA. The district court found that Armstrong Steel was entitled to immunity for three posts because those posts simply contained links to content created by third parties. The court refused, however, to extend CDA immunity to the remaining seventeen posts and the internet search ads. The court found that the “defendants created and developed the content of those ads,” and were therefore not entitled to immunity. After review, the Tenth Circuit dismissed this appeal for lack of jurisdiction, concluding that the CDA provided immunity from liability, not suit, and the district court’s order did not qualify under the collateral order doctrine.