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Judge Conner

ANIMAL SHELTER sued the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) for tortious interference with a prospective business advantage. Plaintiff had entered into negotiations with Rockland County to operate an animal shelter on premises leased from the county. At the same time, another shelter, which regularly utilizes euthanasia, had a contract with the county to run the shelter that was due to expire. Plaintiff advised the county that it could run a “no-kill” shelter on the premises. A program coordinator with HSUS sent a letter to the county executive defending its euthanasia policy. Plaintiff contended that the letter contained false and misleading statements. The court granted defendants’ motion for judgment on the pleadings, noting that the letter was an attempt to influence the government within the meaning of the Noerr-Pennington doctrine, and therefore the statements in that letter are not actionable unless defendants’ actions fall within the “sham exception” to the doctrine or were overtly corrupt.

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