Ninth Circuit Affirms District Court Decision Finding Google Immune From Liability for Third Party Comments
Ashok Chandra | Bloomberg Law
In an unpublished opinion, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed a district court decision dismissing defamation claims brought against Google, Inc., finding that Google was immune from liability for a negative third party review of plaintiffs’ business. The court found that Google was immune because it was merely an interactive computer service and not an information content provider pursuant to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (“CDA”), 47 U.S.C. § 230.
Pro se plaintiffs Gary Black and Holli Beam-Black alleged that Google allowed a member of the general public to anonymously review their business, and that when they contacted Google, it refused to remove the review. The district court had granted Google’s motion to dismiss, finding Google immune from liability for third party content pursuant to the CDA. For a discussion of the earlier case, see Communications Decency Act Immunizes Google from Liability for Third Party Comments, Bloomberg Law Reports – Technology Law, Vol. 2, No. 17 (Aug. 23, 2010). Plaintiffs appealed to the Ninth Circuit.
On appeal, the Ninth Circuit held that the district court properly found that plaintiffs’ claims were precluded by Section 230(c)(1) of the CDA “because plaintiffs seek to impose liability on Google for content created by a third party.” Black at 2; see also Fair Housing Council of San Fernando Valley v. Roomates.com, LLC, 521 F.3d 1157 (9th Cir. 2008) (en banc). The Ninth Circuit determined that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying plaintiffs’ post-judgment request for reconsideration, and affirmed the district court’s dismissal.
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