Supreme Court Refuses To Hear Case That Threatened CDA 230

from the good-news! dept

As we noted earlier this year, the California Supreme Court wisely sided with Yelp in a legal fight over whether or not the company could be forced to remove reviews based on another legal dispute of which Yelp was not a party. The crux of the case was about Section 230 of the CDA. As we detailed back in 2016, a lower court had initially ordered Yelp to take down a review that the court found to be defamatory (though, it was on default judgment as the defendant in the case decided to not show up in court). The case was brought by a lawyer, Dawn Hassell, who sued a former client, Ava Bird, claiming that Bird had posted a negative review of Hassell's legal work. Bird then ignored the lawsuit, leading to the default judgment -- all of which is fine. But then the court issued an injunction against Yelp, ordering it to take down the review, despite Yelp not even being a party to the lawsuit.

The California Supreme Court properly ruled that the injunction should be thrown out, based on CDA 230, which (as we've discussed over and over again) says that an internet service provider (such as Yelp) cannot be held liable due to the speech of a user (such as Ava Bird). This was a pretty standard and "easy" ruling on CDA 230, and the court had many cases to cite. And thus, it's good news that the US Supreme Court has denied Hassell's cert petition to hear the case -- meaning the California ruling stands. It shouldn't be a surprise that the Supreme Court decided not to hear the case, as there is widespread agreement that this is exactly how CDA 230 is meant to work and it's how basically every circuit that has ruled on this issue has found, sot here's no circuit split to deal with. Having the Supreme Court refuse to hear a case isn't always newsworthy, but it's at least a bit of a relief that the court apparently didn't think this one was an issue worth reconsidering. The internet and the services we all use, remain protected... for now.

Filed Under: ava bird, california, cda 230, dawn hassell, free speech, hassell v bird, intermediary liability, reviews, section 230, supreme court
Companies: yelp


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  1. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
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    Anonymous Coward, 23 Jan 2019 @ 4:04pm

    Re:

    The 4Chan/Aspie stalkers are amazing.

    Lots of law firms rely on 230 because they use it to target litigious individuals by paying the judgment-proof or out-of-reach types to defame the targets, then they link anyone who doesn't like the target to the defamation, let nature take its course (the person they set up to be sued repeats the defamation), and then they cash in by defending the stooge who doesn't realize they were being set up.

    Making some4one defenseless against libel has a much greater chilling effect on free speech than the absence of 230 would. Anyone with a logical brain who isn't being paid to ignore this can see that very clearly.

    Some pawns have been fleeced out of six figures or more by this lawyer-driven scam, one which would not be possible without section 230. Some have evevn crossed the line into CHARITY FRAUD, and that will be their likely downfall.

    Like I said, an epic takedown is in the works, both from the feds and from the pawns, some of wwhom are people that smart people would never have attempted to do this to in the first place.

    What is done in the dark will be brought to the light.

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