Judge Throws Out Lawsuit Blaming MySpace For Sexual Assault

from the suing-whoever-has-the-money dept

Last summer we were disappointed, but not surprised, to see the family of a 14-year-old girl who claimed she was sexually assaulted by a 19-year-old guy she met on MySpace decide to sue MySpace for allowing it to happen. Such a lawsuit is ridiculous on any number of levels -- both legally and at a common sense level. It's like suing the phone company any time a phone is used as part of a crime. Legally, it's quite clear that MySpace is protected by section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which makes it clear that a service provider is not responsible for the actions of its users. This makes perfect sense. The law is designed to make sure it's those who are actually responsible for the illegal actions who get in trouble for them. That's why it's good to see that the judge has tossed out this case, pointing to section 230 and noting that if it were allowed, companies like MySpace "would be crippled by lawsuits arising out of third-party communications." The lawyers for the family, of course, plan to appeal -- wasting even more resources on a case that is unlikely to get anywhere. Of course, we're still waiting to hear what the 19-year-old involved in this case is going to do. After the girl's family sued MySpace, his lawyers realized that if MySpace was somehow responsible, then perhaps they could sue as well, and take some of the blame off the guy.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    ScytheNoire, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 2:17am

    Take responsibility little girl

    I'd love to see a newspaper headline "Woman takes responsibility for her actions."

    Hey, little "innocent" girl, you have to step up and take responsibility for your actions. If a guy raped you, then sue him, get him put in jail, and seek therapy as to why you would allow yourself to get into a situation to where you could be raped. You can't be a victim your entire life.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 2:26am

    Re: Take responsibility little girl

    Thank god someone has common sense, Kudos to you, first poster!

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 4:26am

    Re: Take responsibility little girl

    Dude, she's 14. The law states that you can't take responsibility for your actions until you're at least 18.

    I blame idiot parents. How did you girl manage to meet up with a 19 year old she met on myspace without her parents knowing?

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 4:28am

    Dont shoot the messenger

    I think that plenty of these people really do not understand communications as well as they think they do. To be fair, if they were blaming myspace in this way, then I would imagine SMS phone texts are to blame for so many more. Which would be ridiculous

    One further question, when it comes to responsibility, is that was this an assault in that she was unwillingly raped by him, or was it that she actually consented although she was underage? For either, I would blame the parents - SQUARELY for not keeping better tabs on their 14 year old girl. Do they know who her circle of friends are? Were they aware of her internet habits if they did not approve.

    With much of the child crime, including 14 year old boys mugging, shooting and stabbing people for drugs in the street, the parents MUST take responsibility.

     

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  5.  
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    Dateline NBC, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 4:51am

    What about suing AOL for all of the attempted Predators that are caught on "Datline's To catch a predator" why can people sue myspace but leave out the people who are caught on national TV?

     

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  6.  
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    nunya, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 5:21am

    Kudos

    Kudos to poster #1 and #4 for being one of the elite thinking people to post on techdirt today! Nuff said

     

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  7.  
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    Sanguine Dream, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 6:24am

    The real victim...

    in this is the site (in this case being myspace). I'm not talking about the crime itself, I'm talking about the lawsuit. I wholeheartedly agree that the guy should be punished for what he did. But it makes no sense to try to sue the sit on which they met. What's next:

    Suing the cab company when you get mugged after getting out of one near a dark alley?

    Suing the nightclub when a person is drugged then raped?

    Suing your college when you get robbed walking to your dorm alone at night?

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 7:18am

    Appeal?

    I don't see why the family can even make an appeal when the law clearly states you can't sue myspace for that crime.

     

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  9.  
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    akee bashee, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 7:55am

    reasonable care

    All institutions have a duty to take reasinavke care that their patrons customers agents will not be harnmed thru the negligence of aid entity.Any Bar must take steps to prevent raping of drunken and/or drugged women (or men/boys). Cars must be made to a safe std. Food cannot be poisonous (quickly, long term effects they dont care)
    So yes sue the nightclub, sue the cab driver (if complicit) sue the fork company for not enclosing instructions!

     

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  10.  
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    Greedy, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 8:04am

    There suing my space because they have money. They don't care about the dude who did it! They just want money!

     

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  11.  
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    dorpass, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 8:14am

    Re: Re: Take responsibility little girl

    The law doesn't state anywhere that anyone under 18 can't take responsibility for their actions. If that was true, there would be no prosecution of minors.

     

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  12.  
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    dorpass, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 8:15am

    Re: reasonable care

    Ever heard of undue burden?

     

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  13.  
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    djv75, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 8:36am

    The true blame should go to...

    Someone should sue the lawyers that keep convincing the parents that they can sue myspace. It's shameful that these parasites can latch onto a family's grief and anger and use it to try to make a quick buck.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 8:44am

    Re: The true blame should go to...

    The lawyers aren't doing anything wrong. They are running a for-profit organization (better known as a business) and are taking extra steps to ensure they turn a higher profit, nothing immoral about that...if the family is ignorant let them get financially raped by these lawyers, it'll teach them a lesson they won't soon forget.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 8:52am

    For some similar hilarity, do a search for DiMeo v. Max (a Philadelphia socialite is suing Tucker Max, owner and operator of the popular Tuckermax.com, for publishing allegedly libelous postings made by anonymous 3rd parties on his message board forums). The district court judge dismissed the case, and it's currently pending appeal before the 3rd circuit.

     

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  16.  
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    You never Know, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 9:39am

    Keeping in mind the parents are moronic idiots who have absolutely no idea what the internet is and yet turned their little Suzy loose with no restrictions at all. It is the internet after all, it’s like TV, if you don’t like the show, turn the channel, or better yet, turn it off.
    It would seem to me little Suzy was out prowling around and got caught where she should not have been. So instead taking responsibility and taking away or at least limiting the girls access, they see a quick way of making a buck or two. So who is at fault here, the Boy? The Girl? The internet? I would think the parents. I’m just glad to see at least the judicial system waking up to the fact that you don’t shoot the messenger gut because you don’t like the letter being sent.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    You never Know, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 9:39am

    Keeping in mind the parents are moronic idiots who have absolutely no idea what the internet is and yet turned their little Suzy loose with no restrictions at all. It is the internet after all, it’s like TV, if you don’t like the show, turn the channel, or better yet, turn it off.
    It would seem to me little Suzy was out prowling around and got caught where she should not have been. So instead taking responsibility and taking away or at least limiting the girls access, they see a quick way of making a buck or two. So who is at fault here, the Boy? The Girl? The internet? I would think the parents. I’m just glad to see at least the judicial system waking up to the fact that you don’t shoot the messenger gut because you don’t like the letter being sent.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    You never Know, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 9:39am

    Keeping in mind the parents are moronic idiots who have absolutely no idea what the internet is and yet turned their little Suzy loose with no restrictions at all. It is the internet after all, it’s like TV, if you don’t like the show, turn the channel, or better yet, turn it off.
    It would seem to me little Suzy was out prowling around and got caught where she should not have been. So instead taking responsibility and taking away or at least limiting the girls access, they see a quick way of making a buck or two. So who is at fault here, the Boy? The Girl? The internet? I would think the parents. I’m just glad to see at least the judicial system waking up to the fact that you don’t shoot the messenger gut because you don’t like the letter being sent.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
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    viewfromthenorth, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 9:43am

    As mark Twain said '' Kill All The Lawyers''

    I do believe these folks (the Kids Parents) are being led along by the carrot, of a huge cash settlement, being hung on the end of a stick weilded by some lawyer or group of Lawyers,whom are the only real winners should the case be settle in or out of court.

    There should be a law to the effect that if a judge deems a case tivial and having no grounds, that the Lawyer (s) who prepared and submitted it shoud be fined and must pay all the court costs.

    lets see how many more law suits like this go before the courts when the lawyers suddenly have to account for the idiotic things they try to sue for.

     

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  20.  
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    Logical, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 10:33am

    prospective...

    So, to put this in prospective.

    I am driving down the road at 45mph (legal speed limit) and some moron blows thru the traffic light and broadsides me. I sue.... the state of course. If the speed limit had been 55 I would have already past the intersection thus avoiding the other driver, makes sense. Then I sue... the auto manufacturer, if they had not produced the car I would not have been at that place, at that time. Then I sue... the list could go on and on. Sue the lawyer, that is the real moron, plus has all the money.

     

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  21.  
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    Security, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 9:03pm

    Why do Lawyers Take These Case

    One also has to question why skilled lawyers would take this kind of case. Do they really think that Murdoch's attorneys would NOT have had all of these potential litigious issues covered in advanced?

    Were they being paid by the hour - or was it a case of getting 1/3 of the judgement as compensation.

    If in fact, the parents are responsible for the bill, this usually amounts to $400 hourly in most instances - money that could have been saved towards their daughters college tuition in a few years

     

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  22.  
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    self, Feb 23rd, 2007 @ 1:07pm

    i think they are very responsible i know someone that listed himself as a 14 year old boy. and was an twice convicted pedaifile and he was 48 years old .and still was able to register to myspace .was talking to all kinds of minors .can you imagine that now convicted again .see who myspace lets register.. they are very responcible for what happens thru there site thanks

     

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  23.  
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    me, Apr 9th, 2007 @ 12:48pm

    It's NOT MySpace's fault

    It's not MySpace's fault,nor the fault of any common carrier if their service is used to facilitate a crime. There's simply NO way they could monitor every communication taking place on the site, nor would you want them to do so.

    And even if they WERE doing so - there's methods of hiding information that they wouldn't be able to detect, and things would still slip by them (cf: E. German Stazi, KGB...)

    No - the proper people to blame for this farce are the Parents of the child. They have failed to teach their child the dangers of the Internet. Just like Mom used to say "Don't Talk To Strangers" - that now applies to the Net as well.... If your kid, and you are stupid enough to chit chat with someone on some site with MILLIONS of users from around the world, then you reap what you sow...

    As for the lawyers - they are paid to be zealous advocates for their clients. They MAY have advised the client that it was a longshot case, and the CLIENT may have wanted to do it anyway. If someone is offering your $300+/hr or 1/3 of settlement + retainer, and THEY WANT to do it, who are you to say "oh no... keep your money..."... a fool and their $$$ are soon parted, so you might as well pick it up and run with it...

     

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  24.  
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    Alex, Apr 11th, 2007 @ 1:56pm

    Re: Re: reasonable care

    Like, underwear bourbon?

    No, I haven't heard of undue burden. It'd be swell of you to tell us about it though, rather than just post a question asking us if we know about it.

    Do you know about "tarps 'n funnels"? No? Me neither.

     

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  25.  
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    Shirley Humeumptewa, Jan 24th, 2011 @ 10:22am

    Case

    I was glad to know that this was a bogus case and if anything the parents should be held accountable for what happen. Where the hell were they?Come on either your going to be a parent or not!!

     

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