Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick


Filed Under:
blame, section 230, shooting

Companies:
craigslist



If You Get Shot, You Don't Get To Blame Craigslist For Hosting An Ad For The Gun Dealer Where The Shooter Bought The Gun

from the wow dept

We've discussed in the past what we refer to as "Steve Dallas lawsuits." The name comes from an old Bloom County comic strip (which to date, I've been unable to find online, but recall pretty clearly in my head -- but, uh, internet help me out -- can anyone find a copy of this strip? -- see update below), following a storyline where the character Steve Dallas is punched out by actor Sean Penn for trying to take Penn's photo. In the strip, Dallas (a lawyer) discusses who to sue for his injuries from the attack. He rules out most of the obvious candidates for one reason or another (including Penn), before finally settling on the manufacturer of his camera (if I remember correctly, it was Nikon) for failing to put a warning label on the camera, that taking pictures of celebrities may lead to them beating you up. The point: you always sue some big company, no matter how tangentially related to the case, because they're the ones with the money. Update: The punchout storyline begins here, and the actual "who to sue" comic was printed a couple months later here. My memory was slightly off. It wasn't "Nikon" but the company was the made up name "Nikolta" (a mix of Nikon and Minolta, I guess). Still, pretty good memory for something that was printed 23 years ago. Thanks for the help in the comments finding it!

Hence, "Steve Dallas lawsuits." However, in all of the past such lawsuits we've discussed around here, I don't think I've ever seen one that was as big a stretch as this one. A guy who got shot sued Craigslist, because apparently the shooter bought his gun from a gun dealer who advertised on Craigslist. Think about that for a second. At this point we're already twice removed from a reasonable defendant. Could you make an argument against the gun dealer? Even that seems like a stretch (though I'm not all that familiar with gun laws these days). But to go even further and blame Craigslist? That seems preposterous. And, thankfully, the court agreed. It quickly tossed out the lawsuit on Section 230 safe harbors, but you have to wonder if that was even needed, given the fact that Craigslist had nothing at all to do with the shooting.

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  • identicon
    B, 18 Jun 2009 @ 10:20am

    Fees....

    When you pull this sort of stunt, you should be responsible for the defendant's attorney fees, court fees and a reasonable value of the person's time that you've wasted.

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

    • icon
      Norm (profile), 18 Jun 2009 @ 10:37am

      Re: Fees....

      Ditto.

      What we need is some method to discourage frivolous (read: stupid, absurd, etc.) lawsuits. The above is just one way. I would go so far as to make it criminal. Lawyers won't help you sue if they can go to jail for it!

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

    • identicon
      Steve, 18 Jun 2009 @ 2:37pm

      Re: Fees....

      that's how we do it in Canada. You sue and lose, you're on the hook for the WHOLE thing. You don't see a lot of people getting sued up here unless the case has merit. In the States, suing is a national pass-time akin to playing the lottery.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Jun 2009 @ 2:42pm

      Re: Fees....

      That can happen in the US if the court finds the lawsuit to have been frivolous.

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

  • identicon
    ChimpBush McHitlerBurton, 18 Jun 2009 @ 10:20am

    The Guilty Party...

    I don't know why this guy looked past the OBVIOUS target of his lawsuit.

    The Internet.

    If it weren't for THE INTERNET, there would have been no Craigslist.

    Who Invented the Internet? (say Gore and I stab you).

    The GUB'MENT.

    So, this clearly should be a lawsuit against the United States of America.

    And last time I checked, they have deeper pockets than Craigslist.

    CBMHB

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Jun 2009 @ 10:35am

      Re: The Guilty Party...

      Al Gore. I am suing for you threatening to stab me.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Jun 2009 @ 1:48pm

      Re: The Guilty Party...

      And last time I checked, they have deeper pockets than Craigslist.

      Yeah, but they've got guns too! Gotta be careful who you try to shake down!

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

      • icon
        Dark Helmet (profile), 18 Jun 2009 @ 2:29pm

        Re: Re: The Guilty Party...

        "Yeah, but they've got guns too! Gotta be careful who you try to shake down!"

        Besides which, I'm not sure that the premise is even true. Aren't they/we/you/me/dammit a couple trillion in the hole?

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 18 Jun 2009 @ 2:40pm

          Re: Re: Re: The Guilty Party...

          Aren't they/we/you/me/dammit a couple trillion in the hole?

          Difference is, the gov't can always print more. Just makes mine/yours/ours worth less.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Jun 2009 @ 10:23am

    If the shooter Paypal'd the gun dealer he this guy might be able to get into eBay's pockets too.

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

  • icon
    shayneox (profile), 18 Jun 2009 @ 10:23am

    Sue U

    I think I should sue the writer of thia article becouse I feel he provided me wih information I wouldnt normaly know to go to craiglist and look for a gun and shoot someone who stupidly sues people cuz their stupid thus resulting in my suide becouse it was me....

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Jun 2009 @ 10:24am

    Trying for another Streisand term?

    If you have to explain it, it won't stick.

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

  • identicon
    Charles Vestal, 18 Jun 2009 @ 10:28am

    in other news

    Gun = Movie
    Shooting = Piracy
    Shooter = Some kid at uni
    Craigslist = The Pirate Bay

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Jun 2009 @ 10:29am

    "If you leave milk out, it can go sour. Put it in a refrigerator, or, failing that, a cool, wet sack."

    The world is full of Homer Simpsons.

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

  • identicon
    ailuros, 18 Jun 2009 @ 10:30am

    in the UK when you lose a suit you pay for your lawyer, their lawyer, the court's time and (here's the kicker) you have to pay the other party the actual amount you were suing them for! so long, fraudulent lawsuits for millions of dollars, hello functional justice system and stylin' wigs!

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Jun 2009 @ 2:02pm

      Re:

      in the UK when you lose a suit...

      In the US, I'm afraid that would tend to turn lawsuits into wars of attrition. Whoever had the most money to last the longest and put on the best show would often win and then force the poorer looser to pay for everything (again, like the spoils of war). The best "justice" money can buy. But maybe UK courts aren't as biased towards the wealthy in the first place as US courts are.

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

  • icon
    Kelly Brown (profile), 18 Jun 2009 @ 10:48am

    chain lawsuits

    Since when did it become logical/fair to simply sue a link in the chain of events? He should have just sued the manufacturer! The makers are clearly responsible for this!

    I am gonna start committing crimes if all the lawsuits target things above me. I get away with my loot while my mother/boss/landlord gets stuck with the bill!

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

    • icon
      aguywhoneedstenbucks (profile), 18 Jun 2009 @ 11:13am

      Re: chain lawsuits

      Let me know when you go on your crime wave. I've had my eye on some PA equipment, but I need someone to help me carry it.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Jun 2009 @ 11:36am

    And this one time...

    Any this one time... at bandcamp... well, just bad stuff happened...

    So... I'm going to sue the band camp, the school that advertised the bandcamp, the company that printed the flyer that was sent to the school about the bandcamp, the company that makes the ink, that the printer used to make the flyer... the company who made the instruments at bandcamp... can't forget those. Oh... and the company that makes the CASES for the intruments at band camp. Must sue all of the counsellors at band camp. And the company that printed up those ridiculous STAFF T-shirts they wear... and the maker of the CAPS that they wore too!

    Hmm... forget anyone?


    Sadly, this is just an example of a soceity of people who REFUSE to accept personal responsibility for ANYTHING. It's sad, because that's the main reason this country is in decline. By refusing to accept responsibility, we give away our power to everyone else.

    YOU CONTROL YOUR LIFE. As soon as you say you don't, you've stopped being "the boss of you" and you give that power to someone else.

    Time to take back personal power and personal responsibility for our lives and what WE'VE done with our lives and the consequences of the actions that WE'VE taken.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Jun 2009 @ 4:11pm

      Re: And this one time...

      Hmm... forget anyone?

      Yes, yourself! That "bad stuff" wouldn't have happened if you hadn't gone to that camp in the first place. What were you thinking? I bet you weren't, were you? And I wouldn't be surprised if you were walking in a "certain way" that made the "bad stuff" more likely to happen, too.

      ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY!!! YOU CONTROL YOUR LIFE!!!

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 19 Jun 2009 @ 10:57pm

        Re: Re: And this one time...

        Yes, yourself! That "bad stuff" wouldn't have happened if you hadn't gone to that camp in the first place. What were you thinking? I bet you weren't, were you? And I wouldn't be surprised if you were walking in a "certain way" that made the "bad stuff" more likely to happen, too.

        ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY!!! YOU CONTROL YOUR LIFE!!!


        That's right, kiddies. If someone does "bad stuff" to you, then it's your own fault, so be sure an keep quiet about it. Don't ever tell anyone else, keep it secret, or you'll get in trouble. And always remember...
        IT'S YOUR OWN FAULT!!!

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

  • identicon
    barren waste, 18 Jun 2009 @ 11:37am

    Remember the Coffee-mo!!

    The rallying cry of all frivolous lawyers. With McDonalds getting sued for serving hot coffee and fattening foods, this is surely the logical next step. But our protests of these kind of suits really won't do much, especially considering other laws that are just as rediculous. Take home invasion laws, gun laws, and many of the age restriction laws. Our nation is sue happy, and rather than teaching people to take steps to protect themselves from the worlds sharp edges, we encourage them to fall and blame everybody and everything in sight. Politicians scream, "Protect the Children!". Psychologists scream, "It's not your fault!". Lawyers scream, "You ccan sue!". And people wonder why this country is going to hell in a handbasket.

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

    • identicon
      Sergio, 18 Jun 2009 @ 1:11pm

      Re: Remember the Coffee-mo!!

      A lot of people only heard the PR crap that McDonalds spewed out. The reason why the clumsey woman sued McDonalds (and won, not the full amount, but the court did side with her) was because she shouldn't have suffered any burns at all. McDonalds was serving their coffee at three times the legal temprature for beverages. McDonalds of course spun it as "Hey, we're a good company, this idiot is suing 'cause she spilt coffee on herself!"

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

      • identicon
        barren waste, 18 Jun 2009 @ 1:49pm

        Re: Re: Remember the Coffee-mo!!

        While I applaud the fact that you dug into the story, your statement is meaningless. There was no upper range for the temperature of heated beverages. Therefore stating it was higher than the limit isn't an indictment. Anybody recieving a HOT beverage should take care. That she didn't, and recieved a scalding, is her own stupid fault. People get sunburned just as badly all the time. Does that mean they can sue the sun because it was hotter than they expected? Or sue the suntan lotions producer and distributor because proper caution wasn't taken? Idiots who harm themselves through improper use and care should not be rewarded.

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

        • icon
          Almost Anonymous (profile), 19 Jun 2009 @ 1:00pm

          Re: Re: Re: Remember the Coffee-mo!!

          """There was no upper range for the temperature of heated beverages."""

          You are wrong. Even if there is no rule or regulation (which I bet there is), there is an expectation that coffee will not be so hot as to cause almost instant third degree burns if it is spilled in our laps. The manager of that franchise knew exactly what he was doing, had been called on it before, but continued to keep the coffee hotter "than normal" because it lasted longer, meaning they didn't have to remake it as often.

          The lady only asked for her medical bills to be paid, a very reasonable request in light of the ACTUAL facts.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 21 Jun 2009 @ 12:28am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Remember the Coffee-mo!!

            The lady only asked for her medical bills to be paid, a very reasonable request in light of the ACTUAL facts.

            Facts? We don't need no stinkin' facts!

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

      • identicon
        Jim, 18 Jun 2009 @ 2:24pm

        Re: Re: Remember the Coffee-mo!!

        Lets assume that the (made up) ceiling for beverage serving temperature is the same as a warm human body (~100F). I think you'll agree that's not very warm for coffee. If they served her a drink at three times that limit they would be serving her steam.

        So... here's what we're left with:
        • there is a legal limit of about 65F that everyone must be breaking
        • or, you are an idiot
        • or, you are a troll who I just wasted 2 minutes of my life on. (kudos, if so).

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

  • icon
    Keith (profile), 18 Jun 2009 @ 11:41am

    Bloom County Sean Penn Storyline

    Mike, to start the Bloom County Steve Dallas/Sean Penn storyline, go to:

    http://www.gocomics.com/bloomcounty/1986/04/16/

    Manually increment the date, or else you'll trigger the archive script. Enjoy!

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

  • identicon
    Lawyers - Meh!, 18 Jun 2009 @ 11:42am

    Someone PLEASE Think of the Lawyers!

    Shouldn't this Paul B. Dalnocky guy be soundly reprimanded (or at least mocked forever on the Interweb) for even fielding this nutjob as a client and putting together this lawsuit? The "I just wanted to get to the discovery phase to see what kind of controls they [Craigslist] use" seems a bit lame-o, n'est pas?

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

  • identicon
    Johnny Canada, 18 Jun 2009 @ 11:50am

    Time to Sue

    My brain is rotting from reading lawyers that actually take these cases to court

    As iGoogle leads me to Techdirt and IE is my browser and DELL made my monitor and Subaru (Toyota Corp) made the car I drove to work. AND Al Gore for the whole internet.

    Boy am I going to be rich

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Jun 2009 @ 1:04pm

    Has anyone read the rules for craigslist? Unless they have recently changed it, it is against their rule to post any fire arms or related items.

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

  • identicon
    Beta, 18 Jun 2009 @ 1:39pm

    ailuros: "In the UK when you lose a suit you pay [everything]"

    Really? No matter what? In ancient Greece the jury had the power to fine the plaintiff, which sounds better to me.

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

  • identicon
    Bob, 18 Jun 2009 @ 4:18pm

    well...

    usually it's important to make sure everybody has their day in court, though.

    but there really is a big blame-craigslist movement that doesn't need to exist. and naturally, the anti-gun nuts.

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

  • identicon
    Dave Parker, 19 Jun 2009 @ 7:22am

    Please

    Please learn about apostrophes. Please. It's not rocket science. It's just an ASCII character.

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


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