Aug 29, 2019

Judge Dismisses Claims Against Online Marketplace

Attorneys at Thomas & LoCicero achieve a compelling victory which upholds the Communications Decency Act.

Citing the federal law that bars claims against website operators for online speech by others, a court has dismissed negligence and fraud claims against an online marketplace arising from a user’s armed robbery of another user.

David Rodriguez was a subscriber to online marketplace OfferUp, Inc. In 2018, Rodriguez responded to a listing in OfferUp and went to purchase a vehicle. When he arrived, Rodriguez said, he was shot and robbed. A year later, Rodriguez brought a John Doe lawsuit against his attacker. He also sued OfferUp, saying the company was negligent and committed fraud in allegedly stating that its marketplace was safe to use.

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act barred the claims against OfferUp, District Judge James S. Moody, Jr., ruled. “Rodriguez attempts to plead around the fact that he is trying to hold OfferUp responsible for content published by its users by asserting failure to warn and fraud claims,” Judge Moody wrote. “Courts in other jurisdictions have addressed this artful pleading tactic and explained why it also fails under the CDA if the warning is about user-generated content because it still goes to the heart of ‘publishing functions.’ ”

OfferUp was represented by Thomas & LoCicero attorney Jim Lake as local counsel and attorneys Mohamed Awan and Shirin Goyal of Honigman.

With offices in Tampa and Fort Lauderdale, Thomas & LoCicero is a Florida law firm that is widely known, respected and committed to free speech and a free press.  The firm represents the industry’s leading electronic and traditional publishers, as well as individual journalists, bloggers and influencers of social media on issues ranging from news gathering to invasion of privacy, from defamation to pre-publication review.  At the heart of the firm’s mission is to champion free speech and defend journalism every day.

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