Federal judge considering Facebook, Twitter, Google motion to dismiss lawsuit by Pulse survivors

By Karen Kidd | Jul 3, 2018

ORLANDO (Florida Record) – A federal judge in Orlando is considering a request by Twitter, Facebook and Google to dismiss a lawsuit filed against them by more than a dozen Pulse nightclub shooting survivors who claim the social media giants aided in the spread of terrorist propaganda.

ORLANDO (Florida Record) – A federal judge in Orlando is considering a request by Twitter, Facebook and Google to dismiss a lawsuit filed against them by more than a dozen Pulse nightclub shooting survivors who claim the social media giants aided in the spread of terrorist propaganda.

Lead plaintiff in the case is Angel Colon, who was shot six times during the early morning attack in June 2016 when Omar Mateen entered the popular Orlando gay nightclub, opened fire and killed 49 and injured 53, according to local police and news reports at the time. Mateen was killed by police when they realized he was about to kill more people, according to the reports.

The survivors have failed to state a claim for which relief may be granted, according to the 31-page joint motion to dismiss the plaintiffs' first amended complaint filed in April in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Orlando Division. The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Carlos E. Mendoza.

 "This is the second lawsuit filed by plaintiffs' counsel seeking to hold defendants liable for deaths and injuries resulting from the 2016 shooting by Omar Mateen at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando," the motion to dismiss said. "The first action, asserting virtually identical factual and legal theories, was filed in another district court and was dismissed with prejudice in a comprehensive decision."

This lawsuit should be dismissed as well, according to the motion by Twitter, Facebook and Google filed with the court on June 26. The case before Mendoza is similar to a federal case in Michigan, Crosby v. Twitter, according to the motion.

The Crosby case was dismissed by the U.S. District Court for the Easter District of Michigan, Southern Division, on April 2, two days before the Florida case was filed. The Crosby case has since been appealed to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals

"The Crosby court held that the plaintiffs failed to establish multiple independent elements required for direct or secondary liability under the Anti-Terrorism Act and that their state law claims failed for lack of proximate cause," the motion continued. "Central to the court’s ruling was the plaintiffs' failure to allege facts establishing that any defendants aided, abetted, or in any way contributed to Mateen's shooting. Just days after the Crosby decision, plaintiffs' counsel filed this lawsuit, asserting duplicate claims against the same defendants on behalf of a different set of Pulse victims."

Counsel for Twitter, Facebook and Google urged Mendoza to dismiss the case, citing the Michigan federal court decision in the Crosby case. "The same result is warranted here," the motion said. "There is no question that the Pulse nightclub shooting was a devastating tragedy. But any claim that Facebook, Google or Twitter are responsible for the attack fails as a matter of law. Because no amendment can cure these defects, this court should follow Crosby and dismiss plaintiffs' action with prejudice."

In addition to the joint motion for dismissal, an unopposed motion to stay discovery and other proceedings also has been filed with the court in the Florida case, pending resolution of the defense joint motion to dismiss.

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