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United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
March 26, 2020, Argued and Submitted, San Francisco, California; June 22, 2021, Filed
No. 18-16700, No. 18-17192, No. 19-15043
[*879] CHRISTEN, Circuit Judge:
We address three appeals arising from separate acts of terrorism—one in Paris, one in Istanbul, and one in San Bernardino—in which Nohemi Gonzalez, Nawras Alassaf, Sierra Clayborn, Tin Nguyen, and Nicholas Thalasinos lost their lives. The foreign terrorist organization known as ISIS took responsibility for the attacks in Paris and Istanbul and lauded the attack in San Bernardino after the fact. Plaintiffs are members of the victims' families.
[*880] Plaintiffs seek damages pursuant to the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), 18 U.S.C. § 2333. ] The ATA allows United States nationals to recover damages for injuries suffered "by reason of an act of international terrorism," id. § 2333(a), but the defendant in these cases is not ISIS. Instead, plaintiffs allege that Google, Twitter, and Facebook are directly and secondarily liable for the five murders at issue in these cases. The complaints allege that defendants' social media platforms allowed ISIS to post videos and other content to communicate the terrorist group's message, to radicalize new recruits, and to generally further its mission. Plaintiffs also claim that Google placed paid advertisements in proximity to ISIS-created content and shared the resulting ad revenue [**10] with ISIS. In these and other ways, all three complaints allege defendants are directly liable for committing acts of international terrorism pursuant § 2333(a) of the ATA, and secondarily liable for conspiring with, and aiding and abetting, ISIS's acts of international terrorism pursuant to § 2333(d).2
This opinion addresses three separate appeals. The Gonzalez appeal concerns claims for both direct and secondary liability against Google. In that case, the district court granted Google's motion to dismiss, concluding that most of the Gonzalez Plaintiffs' claims were barred pursuant to 47 U.S.C. § 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA), and that the Gonzalez Plaintiffs' direct liability claims failed to adequately allege proximate cause. The Taamneh and Clayborn appeals concern claims for secondary liability against Google, Twitter, and Facebook. In both of these cases, the district court granted defendants' motions to dismiss on the grounds that the plaintiffs failed to plausibly allege a secondary liability claim under the ATA.
We have jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1291. We conclude the district court in Gonzalez properly ruled that § 230 bars most of the Gonzalez Plaintiffs' claims, and that the Gonzalez Plaintiffs failed to state an actionable claim as to their remaining [**11] theories of liability asserted pursuant to the ATA. In Taamneh, we conclude the district court erred by ruling the Plaintiffs failed to state a claim for aiding-and-abetting liability under the ATA. The district court did not reach § 230 immunity in Taamneh. In Clayborn, we conclude the district court correctly held that Plaintiffs failed to plausibly plead their claim for aiding-and-abetting liability. We therefore affirm the judgments in Gonzalez and Clayborn, and reverse and remand for further proceedings in Taamneh.
Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.
2 F.4th 871 *; 2021 U.S. App. LEXIS 18515 **
REYNALDO GONZALEZ; THE ESTATE OF NOHEMI GONZALEZ; BEATRIZ GONZALEZ, Individually and as Administrator of the Estate of Nohemi Gonzalez; JOSE HERNANDEZ; REY GONZALEZ; PAUL GONZALEZ, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. GOOGLE LLC, Defendant-Appellee.MEHIER TAAMNEH; LAWRENCE TAAMNEH; SARA TAAMNEH; DIMANA TAAMNEH, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. TWITTER, INC.; GOOGLE LLC; FACEBOOK, INC., Defendants-Appellees.GREGORY CLAYBORN, Individually and as Successor-In-Interest of the Estate of SIERRA CLAYBORN; KIM CLAYBORN; TAMISHIA CLAYBORN; VANESSA NGUYEN, Individually and as Successor-In-Interest of the Estate of TIN NGUYEN; TRUNG DO; JACOB THALASINOS; JAMES THALASINOS, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. TWITTER, INC.; FACEBOOK, INC.; GOOGLE LLC, Defendants-Appellees.
Subsequent History: As Corrected June 24, 2021.
Later proceeding at Gonzalez v. Google LLC, 2021 U.S. App. LEXIS 23119 (9th Cir. Cal., Aug. 4, 2021)
Motion granted by Gonzalez v. Google LLC, 2021 U.S. App. LEXIS 23950 (9th Cir. Cal., Aug. 10, 2021)
Later proceeding at Clayborn v. Twitter, Inc., 2021 U.S. App. LEXIS 23945 (9th Cir. Cal., Aug. 10, 2021)
Later proceeding at Taamneh v. Twitter, Inc., 2021 U.S. App. LEXIS 25043 (9th Cir. Cal., Aug. 20, 2021)
Rehearing denied by, En banc, Rehearing denied by Taamneh v. Twitter, Inc., 2021 U.S. App. LEXIS 38153 (9th Cir. Cal., Dec. 27, 2021)
Rehearing denied by, En banc, Rehearing denied by Clayborn v. Twitter, Inc., 2021 U.S. App. LEXIS 38156 (9th Cir. Cal., Dec. 27, 2021)
Rehearing denied by, Rehearing denied by, En banc Gonzalez v. Google LLC, 21 F.4th 665, 2022 U.S. App. LEXIS 12, 2022 WL 16867 (9th Cir., Jan. 3, 2022)
US Supreme Court certiorari granted by Twitter, Inc. v. Taamneh, 2022 U.S. LEXIS 3923 (U.S., Oct. 3, 2022)
US Supreme Court certiorari granted by Gonzalez v. Google LLC, 2022 U.S. LEXIS 3842 (U.S., Oct. 3, 2022)
Prior History: [**1] Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. D.C. No. 4:16-cv-03282-DMR. Donna M. Ryu, Magistrate Judge, Presiding.
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. D.C. No. 3:17-cv-04107-EMC. Edward M. Chen, District Judge, Presiding.
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. D.C. Nos. 3:17-cv-06894-LB. 3:18-cv-00543-LB. Laurel D. Beeler, Magistrate Judge, Presiding.
Taamneh v. Twitter, Inc., 343 F. Supp. 3d 904, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 185052, 2018 WL 5729232 (N.D. Cal., Oct. 29, 2018)Clayborn v. Twitter, Inc., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 217877, 2018 WL 6839754 (N.D. Cal., Dec. 31, 2018)Gonzalez v. Google, Inc., 335 F. Supp. 3d 1156, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 138367, 2018 WL 3872781 (N.D. Cal., Aug. 15, 2018)
Disposition: The judgment in No. 18-16700 is AFFIRMED. The judgment in No. 18-17192 is REVERSED AND REMANDED. The judgment in No. 19-15043 is AFFIRMED.
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