Court okays unjust enrichment claim in content scraping case

Plaintiff ShopLocal sued defendant Cairo, its competitor in the online advertising industry. ShopLocal accused Cairo of unauthorized use of a content scraper, whereby Cairo accessed and republished advertisements created by ShopLocal. [Read about other litigation involving Cairo.]

In addition to claims under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act [18 U.S.C. 1030 et seq.] and for common law trespass to chattel, ShopLocal asserted claims for breach of contract and unjust enrichment. Cairo moved to dismiss the unjust enrichment claim, asserting that ShopLocal should not be permitted to recover for both breach of contract and unjust enrichment in the same action. Because ShopLocal had not pled unjust enrichment as an alternative cause of action, Cairo argued, ShopLocal had failed to allege a claim upon which relief could be granted.

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois rejected Cairo’s argument, and denied the motion to dismiss. The court held that under Illinois law, an unjust enrichment claim may be predicated on either a contract or tort theory. Because ShopLocal’s unjust enrichment claim was based in tort, it could stand alone without being pled in the alternative.

ShopLocal LLC v. Cairo, Inc., (Slip. Op.) 2006 WL 495942 (N.D. Ill., February 27, 2006).