Doe v. Internet Brands, Inc., No. 12-56638 (9th Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff, an aspiring model, filed a failure to warn suit against Internet Brands, the company who owns the website modelmayhem.com. Plaintiff had posted information about herself on the website and two rapists used the website to lure her to a fake audition where they drugged her, raped her, and recorded her for a pornographic video. The district court dismissed plaintiff's action because her claim was barred by the Communications Decency Act (CDA), 47 U.S.C. 230(c). The court held that section 230(c)(1) precludes liability that treats a website as the publisher or speaker of information users provide on the website. This section protects websites from liability for material posted on the website from someone else. In this case, plaintiff does not seek to hold Internet Brands liable as a "publisher or speaker" of content someone posted on modelmayhem.com, or for Internet Brands' failure to remove content on the website. Plaintiff also does not claim to have been lured by any posting that Internet Brands failed to remove. Instead, plaintiff attempts to hold Internet Brands liable for failing to warn her about how third parties targeted and lured victims through the website. The duty to warn allegedly imposed by California law would not require Internet Brands to remove any user content or otherwise affect how it publishes such content. Therefore, the CDA does not bar plaintiff's failure to warn claim and the CDA was not a valid basis to dismiss the complaint. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded.
The court issued a subsequent related opinion or order on February 24, 2015.