from the law-firms-must-be-hoping-for-a-first-round-draft-pick dept
The 1-800-LAW-FIRM/Excolo Law losing streak continues. The lawyers at those firms have been preying on the victims of terrorist attacks for a few years now, presumably promising them some form of justice that can only be obtained by filing futile, flawed, completely doomed lawsuits that attempt to hold social media companies directly responsible for the criminal acts of terrorists.
This lawsuit — facing its second rejection in a row — was one of the stupidest filed by these law firms. Jesus Retana, a Dallas police officer, was wounded during a mass shooting perpetrated by Micah Johnson. The lawsuit attempted to use the AITA (Anti-International Terrorism Act) to hold Twitter responsible for the alleged “radicalization” of Johnson by Hamas, an entity the US government has declared a terrorist organization.
The Fifth Circuit Appeals Court finds this attempt to tie Twitter to Micah Johnson and his shooting of Dallas police officers as legally unbelievable as the lower court did. There’s no discussion of Section 230 immunity, which would shield Twitter from this litigation, because the rest of the allegations are so baseless there’s no reason to bring it up. (h/t Eric Goldman)
The court says [PDF] not only is there no link between Hamas, Twitter, and Micah Johnson, there’s also no link between Hamas and the shooting in Dallas. And there’s certainly no international terrorism justifying the accusations of Twitter’s supposed violation of international terrorism laws.
An act of international terrorism is one that “occur[s] primarily outside the territorial jurisdiction of the United States, or transcend[s] national boundaries.” We cannot conclude that the Dallas shooting transcended national boundaries. We sympathize with Plaintiffs, but this shooting was committed by a lone shooter entirely within the United States. He might have been radicalized in part by Hamas, but Hamas did not plan the shooting or even take credit for it.
There’s also no connection between Johnson and Hamas in the 96 pages of the original lawsuit, nor in its current amended state. Linking Johnson to Hamas is crucial, especially if the plaintiffs want to claim Twitter helped Hamas radicalize the shooter. That link simply isn’t there.
Johnson was a self-radicalized shooter who merely “liked” the Facebook pages of “black separatist hate groups” that had communicated with Hamas. And, while Johnson met with Ms. X and indicated that he sympathized with Hamas’s objectives, that occurred two years prior to the Dallas shooting.
It was a shooting perpetrated by a US citizen on US soil with no solid ties to any international terrorist group. No international terrorist group took credit for the attack. There was no international terrorism. The AITA claim fails. Again.
So does the allegation of secondary liability.
We also hold that Defendants did not “knowingly” and “substantial[ly]” assist Hamas in the Dallas shooting, again because the shooting was committed by Johnson alone and not by Hamas either alone or in conjunction with Johnson. The district court was correct in concluding that Defendants are not secondarily liable under the ATA.
This case was dismissed by the district court in December 2019. At that point, it was these law firms’ TWELFTH straight loss in federal courts. That win-loss record hasn’t improved since then. Unfortunately, these firms seem to have no problem finding new victims of terrorist acts to use as fodder for DOA lawsuits.