Home > News > ModelMayhem 'Failure to Warn' Case Going Back to 9th Circuit • Bookmark   • Newsletters   • Register Search Options


ModelMayhem 'Failure to Warn' Case Going Back to 9th Circuit

ModelMayhem 'Failure to Warn' Case Going Back to 9th Circuit
Get XBIZ News
Mar 1, 2017 10:50 AM PST    Text size: 

PASADENA, Calif. — The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear for a second time a long-running “failure to warn” case involving defendant ModelMayhem.com, which was sued by a woman who was raped after being lured to a bogus casting call.

The case has roots going back to 2006, when Lavont Flanders and Emerson Callum browsed model-posted profiles on ModelMayhem.com, contacted potential victims using fake identities, posed as talent scouts and lured the victims to South Florida for phony modeling auditions.

Once a victim arrived, Flanders and Callum used a date rape drug to put the victim in a semi-catatonic state, raped her and recorded the rape on videotape for sale and distribution as pornography, according to court records.

Flanders and Callum, as a result, were apprehended and given consecutive life sentences in prison for their activities.

Unnamed plaintiff Jane Doe, an aspiring model who became a member of ModelMayhem, fell victim to Flanders and Callum and later sued the “networking” website for damages.

Doe’s negligence suit against ModelMayhem.com’s parent company, Internet Brands Inc., ended up at the 9th Circuit last year after U.S. District Judge John Walter dismissed it on grounds that her claim was barred by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

But the 9th Circuit reversed Walter’s dismissal of the suit and remanded the case back to his courtroom for further proceedings, concluding that the CDA did not immunize a website from a "failure to warn" claim.

Once the case was back to Walters court, ModelMayhem’s parent company moved to dismiss Doe’s suit — this time on the grounds that it had no duty to warn her of the pair's activities under California law.

Walter agreed with ModelMayhem’s parent company's argument and granted its motion to dismiss Doe's claims.

In his opinion that will be challenged at the 9th Circuit, Walters relied on two California cases: Tarasoff v. Regents of the University of California, which was a case in which the state Supreme Court held that mental health professionals have a duty to protect individuals who are being threatened with bodily harm by a patient, and Rowland v. Christian, another case decided by the state Supreme Court that eliminated the categories of invitee, licensee and trespasser when determining the duty of care owed by a possessor of land to the people on the land.

“Although it may have been foreseeable that Flanders and Callum would strike again, Internet Brands only had knowledge of a threat to its member base at large, not to any specific member,” Walters wrote in his November ruling.

“Imposing a 'duty to warn' under these circumstances would, in the court’s opinion, only minimally increase the precautions already taken by website users and would also likely cause website operators to inundate and overwhelm their users with warnings, ultimately diluting the effectiveness of such warnings.”

At post time, the 9th Circuit has docketed Doe’s challenge, but the appellate court has not yet moved on the case.

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 !


Adult Biz Faces More Obstacles Past Prop. 60 Battle

On Feb. 1, I completed 365 days as the Free Speech Coalition’s executive director. It was a turbulent first year, and when I received the 2017 XBIZ Industry Leadership Award I was startled, humbled... More »

Ad Networks: A Look at Compliance Issues

Among the major concerns of online marketers when evaluating advertising creatives are the return on investment, click-through and engagement rates, (re)targeting and opportunities for micro-tuning monetization.... More »

Ad Networks: Maximizing Precious Time and Resources

For traffic-savvy adult website operators and marketers, buying ad space and premium placement on select sites is a proven method for attracting audiences. This has traditionally involved studying a site’s... More »
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.

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 World magazine, the industry's leading e-commerce trade publication, delivering in-depth coverage of the online, mobile and ancillary digital markets.



Mar 31 - Apr 02
Denver, CO.

Eurowebtainment 2017

May 17 - May 20
Majorca, Spain

XBIZ Retreat

May 30 - Jun 03
Miami, Florida

XBIZ Miami 2017

May 30 - Jun 02
Miami, Florida
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!