ST. LOUIS — An online classified advertising company is suing an attorney general of Missouri for alleged harassment and defamation.

Backpage.com LLC filed a complaint July 11 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri Eastern Division against Missouri Attorney General Joshua D. Hawley, alleging the defendant violated the Communications Decency Act and Missouri Merchandising Practices Act.

According to the complaint, the plaintiff alleges that in April 2017, it was being pursued for allegedly advertising commercial sexual conduct and other services on its website. The plaintiff claims it prohibited illegal content activity on its website and took extensive steps to prevent such misuse and to guard against any form of trafficking or child exploitation. The plaintiff claims it was subjected to unreasonable expense, undue burden, loss of credibility and harassment. 

The plaintiff holds Hawley responsible because the defendant allegedly failed to identify any user or ad on the plaintiff's website that is the subject of the investigation, failed to provide any ground to suggest that specific ad was illegal and failed to provide specific reasons but merely allegations that some or all of the vaguely defined suspects have engaged or are engaging in some unlawful merchandising practices.

The plaintiff seeks for preliminary and permanent injunctions, declaratory judgment, award of all costs, attorneys' fees, and other relief the court deems just and proper. The plaintiff is represented by Mark Sableman, Jan Paul Miller and Michael L. Nepple of Thompson Coburn LLP in St. Louis.

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri Eastern Division case number 4:17-cv-01951

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U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri Eastern Division
111 South 10th Street
St. Louis, MO - 63102

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