Home > News > 9th Circuit Hears Duty-to-Warn Case Involving ModelMayhem.com • Bookmark   • Newsletters   • Register Search Options

NEWS STORY

9th Circuit Hears Duty-to-Warn Case Involving ModelMayhem.com

9th Circuit Hears Duty-to-Warn Case Involving ModelMayhem.com
Get XBIZ News
Apr 9, 2015 11:13 AM PDT    Text size: 

PASADENA, Calif. — In a closely watched case, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday heard from both sides in a civil suit alleging liability of ModelMayhem.com after two of its users drugged and raped a woman by luring her to a bogus casting call.

Emerson Callum and accomplice Lavont Flanders Jr. were given consecutive life sentences in prison for their misdeeds in Florida, and Internet Brands, the parent company of ModelMayhem.com, won an appellate re-hearing over whether it should be civilly liable in the case.

The woman, known as Jane Doe No. 12, sued the site’s operators for negligent failure to warn, claiming the company knew but failed to warn users.

But a federal judge dismissed her case under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which limits the liability of a website's publisher for content posted by third parties — in this case, Doe’s posting of her contact information.

On appeal, a 9th Circuit panel last year tossed the lower court decision and ruled that the Communications Decency Act did not bar the woman’s “failure to warn” claim against ModelMayhem.com. But the website’s counsel won a rehearing in the case in February, which was heard yesterday.

Doe’s attorney, Jeff Herman, argued that the case has nothing to do with ModelMayhem.com’s role as a publisher and that the CDA does not give Internet service providers "blanket immunity."

Herman argued that ModelMayhem.com had a duty to warn users of potential predatory danger because the company knew that the two predators had used the site to find victims before.

“We don’t want to hold them liable for third-party content,” Herman said. “What we are seeking to do is hold them liable over that they knew: That my client was at risk and there was a failure to warn.”

Attorney Daniel Collins, who represents ModelMayhem.com, said that the site's alleged duty has only to do with its status as the publisher since the duty "is alleged to arise from the fact that we brought her information into the world without giving a warning."

But panelist Judge Richard Clifton said that the case is in “an entirely different context” because ModelMayhem.com knew about the “miscreants in Florida.”

“How is the CDA intended to protect your client?” he asked Collins. “What suggests that the policy does go further in a case like this?”

The “problem is that predators were out there and could contact anybody who posted on your website,” the jurist remarked. “You could satisfy the duty to warn not by editing, but just by giving a warning.”

Clifton noted that the case, which he characterized as "complicated," "is going to open the door to numerous duty-to-warn cases."

"We know that there are predators out there," he said. "Does that mean that every [site] has to provide notice somewhere by saying, 'Use this website at your own risk'?"

"I can imagine Internet service providers being concerned and asking, 'How do we protect ourselves?'" he said.

The case has attracted the attention of numerous Internet companies and organizations that have sided with ModelMayhem.com.

In an amicus brief, Facebook, Craigslist, Tumblr, the Computer and Communications Industry Association, The Internet Association and Care.com said that they have settled on interpretations granting broad immunity to online intermediaries for harms arising from third-party content.

Yesterday’s 9th Circuit hearing can be heard here.

More ways to get XBIZ News:  RSS Feeds  |  E-Newsletters  |  Desktop Widget  |  Mobile
Looking for porn star news and behind-the-scene videos? Check out XFANZ.com !

PROFILES & BIOS

Clean Light Labs President Carrie Martz Discusses Uvee Sanitizing System

Clean Light Laboratories has come up with a UVC light system, the Uvee, designed to kill up to 99 percent of infection-causing germs, and scientifically tested by a master biochemist. Carrie Martz, who... More »

WIA Profile: Samantha Brown

Each month, industry news media organization XBIZ spotlights the career accomplishments and outstanding contributions of Women in Adult. WIA profiles offer an intimate look at the professional lives of... More »

Xgen Products Celebrates 7-Year Anniversary

In August, Xgen Products celebrated its seventh anniversary with a special promotion. The winner of Xgen’s Lucky 7 raffle, Xgen announced in late July, would win a three-day, two-night trip for two... More »
XBIZ NEWSLETTERS
Stay informed of the latest industry developments. Get XBIZ newsletters delivered to your inbox. Subscribe today!
Enter email address:

* To manage existing subscriptions click here.






POPULAR PRODUCTS & SERVICES
Submit your press release to
multiple news outlets with 1 click.
Subscribe to RSS news feeds or
add free content to your website.
Access XBIZ news and articles
with your mobile device.
Subscribe to XBIZ Premiere magazine, the industry's leading adult retail trade publications, delivering the most timely and comprehensive business news and information to producers and retailers of adult products.

UPCOMING EVENTS

eroFame

Oct 05 - Oct 07
Hannover, Germany

EXXXOTICA Edison

Nov 04 - Nov 06
Edison, New Jersey

2016 Inked Awards

Nov 05 - Nov 05
Edison, New Jersey

XBIZ 2017

Jan 09 - Jan 13
Hollywood, CA
Everyday thousands of business professionals browse XBIZ's industry directory for quality products and services. Not listed yet? Your company could be losing potential new business. Submit your company today!
Use XBIZ RSS feeds to stay informed of the latest industry developments or as a content syndication tool for your website!