Legal Memorandum: Immunity for a Website Operator

Issue: Under what circumstances can a website operator claim immunity for the content it publishes?

Area of Law: Information Technology Law & E-Commerce
Keywords: Immunity; Website operator
Jurisdiction:  Federal
Cited Cases: None
Cited Statutes: CDA § 230; 47 U.S.C. § 230
Date: 08/01/2011

Under Missouri law, both state and federal courts will award pre-judgment interest on a claim from the time of the breach or the time the claim becomes liquidated.  V.A.M.S. § 408.020.  However, the general rule is that only simple interest, not compound interest (sometimes called “interest on interest”), will be awarded. See Brockman v. Soltysiak, 49 S.W.3d 740, 746 (Mo. Ct. App. E.D. 2001); Swope v. Siegel-Robert, Inc., 74 F. Supp. 2d 876, 924 (W.D. Mo. 1999), rev’d in part on other grounds, 243 F.3d 486, 497 (8th Cir. 2001).*FN1 

As with most general rules, there are exceptions, but only two exceptions are recognized in this context by Missouri’s state and federal courts:  interest on interest will be awarded where (1) the contract allegedly breached calls for it; or (2) the trial court is sitting as a court of equity and justice requires it.  Geisner v. Budget Rent-A-Car, 999 S.W.2d 265, 268 (Mo. Ct. App. E.D. 1999); Lammers v. Lammers, 884 S.W.2d 389, 393 (Mo. Ct. App. W.D. 1994); Swope, 74 F. Supp. 2d at 922.

Some cases that discuss this second instance indicate that it may apply when the action is one “in equity” and the defendant breached a fiduciary duty.  See Geisner, 999 S.W.2d at 268-69 (citing cases); but see Swope, 74 F. Supp. 2d at 924 (noting that where plaintiff seeks only money damages, it is not an equitable action but a legal one, so the exception is inapplicable).  […]

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