Controversial Judge Certifies Class Action in NCOSE-Promoted Pornhub Lawsuit

Controversial Judge Certifies Class Action in NCOSE-Promoted Pornhub Lawsuit

SANTA ANA, Calif. — A federal judge presiding over a civil lawsuit against Pornhub's parent company has granted class certification in the case to all persons who were minors when they appeared in content posted on that site since February 2011.

Judge Cormac J. Carney of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California made the ruling on Friday, in a lawsuit filed on behalf of an anonymous Jane Doe who claims that Pornhub monetized underage images uploaded by third parties.

Carney, a George W. Bush appointee who stepped down from his previous post as chief judge of the court after making a racially insensitive comment about a court official, “wrote that the evidence submitted shows that the class is sufficiently numerous, and the claims involve common questions, including whether Mindgeek received or distributed the material, whether they deliberately avoided learning it was on their sites and whether they benefited from the material,” Law360 reported.

Carney also certified “a California subclass, with Doe as class representative and her attorneys at Susman Godfrey LLP as class counsel.”

As XBIZ reported, the lawsuit was originally filed during an ongoing campaign of legal actions by religiously motivated groups like NCOSE (formerly Morality in Media) and activists like Leila Mickelwait, who seek to shut down Pornhub owner Aylo — then MindGeek — and all online pornography.

The anonymous plaintiff was initially represented by Michael Bowe, a former lawyer for Donald Trump and disgraced evangelist Jerry Falwell Jr., who has appeared alongside Mickelwait before Canada’s parliament to demand the shuttering and prosecution of all MindGeek sites. Bowe was also prominently featured in the 2023 Netflix documentary “Money Shot: the Pornhub Story,” criticizing the tube site. 

Aylo, which owns Pornhub, is still referred to as MindGeek in this action and in some reporting because the case caption has not been updated.

An Aylo representative told XBIZ, "Out of respect for the integrity of court proceedings, our policy is not to comment on ongoing litigation. We look forward to the facts being fully and fairly aired in that forum."

Judge Repeatedly Slams Defendants in Decision

In his ruling certifying the class, Carney wrote, “It is terrifying to face a person or entity who participated in a venture that caused trauma. Here, individual survivors face one of the world’s largest pornography companies, in an aggressive litigation posture, who have retained law firms with considerable reputations.”

Carney further opined that “few, if any, individual survivors could muster comparable resources, nor is there any guarantee they could find counsel willing to work pro bono or on a contingency basis. Pooling these burdens among a group of survivors helps more survivors bring claims.”

In fact, powerful religious conservative lobbies and activists have invested considerable funds and energy in calling for, pursuing and supporting lawfare to shut down Aylo and other adult companies.

Some of Carney’s other statements about the merits of the case were characterized by loaded language seemingly condemning Pornhub and MindGeek/Aylo.

Carney contended that the case is not about money — as the defendant’s attorneys have argued — but about “compensating class members, protecting them from future harm and changing MindGeek’s alleged behavior, which is served by both damages and an injunction,” Law360 reported.

Industry Attorney Warns Caution

Industry attorney Corey Silverstein, of Silverstein Legal, emphasized that the certification decision is not a finding of liability against any of the defendants at this point in the case.

“Now that the court has granted class certification, the case proceeds as a class action and the decisions made in the case will generally bind all members of the certified class unless they opt out,” he noted.

Silverstein explained that to be certified as a class action, a lawsuit must meet specific criteria, including numerosity (the class must be so numerous that joinder of all members is impractical), commonality (there must be questions of law or fact common to the class), typicality (the claims or defenses of the representative parties must be typical of the claims or defenses of the class) and adequacy of representation (the representatives must fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class).

Judge Carney, the attorney continued, “was quite detailed in the order certifying the class, and while the defendants are presumably disappointed by the judge’s decision, this order doesn’t preclude the defendants from asserting any of their defenses that they have raised or intend on raising. The plaintiffs surely view this as a victory but should recognize that they still bear the burden of proving their claims.”

Silverstein also pointed out that defendants can immediately appeal orders granting or denying class certification. 

“It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest to see an appeal forthcoming,” he added.

Industry members, Silverstein concluded, should continue to closely follow the progress of this case.

The case is Jane Doe v. MindGeek USA Inc. et al., case number 8:21-cv-00338, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

Copyright © 2024 Adnet Media. All Rights Reserved. XBIZ is a trademark of Adnet Media.
Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission is prohibited.

More News

Kansas Senator Dismisses Free Speech Concerns About Her Age Verification Bill

The Kansas Senate Judiciary Committee last week voted unanimously to endorse the state’s copycat version of the age verification legislation being sponsored around the country by anti-porn religious conservative activists, despite Democratic Senators expressing concerns about implications for free speech.

Mile High Media Debuts Streaming Service 'AdultMobile'

Mile High Media has launched its new streaming service,, featuring the studio's entire library of content.

2024 XBIZ Creator Awards Categories Announced, Pre-Noms Now Open

XBIZ is pleased to announce the award categories and opening of the pre-nomination period for the 2024 XBIZ Creator Awards.

South Dakota Republicans Admit Age Verification is Part of National Campaign Against Online 'Filth'

The South Dakota House Judiciary Committee last week voted unanimously to endorse the state’s copycat version of the age verification legislation being sponsored around the country by anti-porn religious conservative activists, which the bill’s backers described as part of a national campaign to fight online “filth.”

BranditScan, Pineapple Support Partner for Mental Health Awareness Week

BranditScan is teaming up with Pineapple Support for Mental Health Awareness Week, today through Sunday.

Fansly Signs On as Presenting Sponsor of 2024 XBIZ Creator Awards

Premium creator platform Fansly has signed on as the exclusive Presenting Sponsor of the 2024 XBIZ Creator Awards, the adult creator community’s biggest night.

Actor Rick Schroder Releases Bizarre Trailer for Anti-Porn Propaganda Series 'Erotic Erosion'

Former child actor and current anti-porn activist Rick Schroder is moving forward with “Erotic Erosion,” a new propaganda series targeting the adult industry.

Florida Republicans Combine Age Verification, Social Media Ban Bills

Republican state legislators in Florida have incorporated a copycat age verification bill, introduced by a pastor and based on other laws championed by religious conservatives across the country, into a larger bill that aims to prevent anyone under 16 from using certain social media platforms.

UK Media Regulator Encourages Companies, Creators to Provide Feedback on New Rules for Adult Content

U.K media regulator Ofcom is encouraging all members of the adult industry, including companies, creators and other stakeholders, to provide feedback to help it establish new regulations under the recent Online Safety Act — regulations that will impact the accessibility of online adult content.

Critics Lambast Revised Version of Controversial KOSA Bill

The main U.S. Senate sponsors of the controversial Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA) have released a new version of the bill, which they claim addresses privacy and censorship issues flagged by opponents, but critics insist the revised version still presents insurmountable problems.

Show More