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Jones v. Dirty World Entm't Recordings LLC

United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

May 1, 2014, Argued; June 16, 2014, Decided; June 16, 2014, Filed

File Name: 14a0125p.06

No. 13-5946

Opinion

 [*401]  [***2]   JULIA SMITH GIBBONS, Circuit Judge. This case presents the issue of whether the Communications Decency Act of 1996 (CDA), 47 U.S.C. § 230, bars the state-law defamation claims of plaintiff-appellee  [**2] Sarah Jones. Jones was the unwelcome subject of several posts anonymously uploaded to www.TheDirty.com, a popular website operated by defendants-appellants Nik Lamas-Richie and DIRTY WORLD, LLC ("Dirty World"), and of remarks Richie posted on the site. The website enables users to anonymously upload comments, photographs, and video, which Richie then selects and publishes along with his own distinct, editorial comments. In short, the website is a user-generated tabloid primarily targeting non-public figures.

In response to the posts appearing on www.TheDirty.com, Jones brought an action in federal district court alleging state  [*402]  tort claims of defamation, libel per se, false light, and intentional inflection of emotional distress. Richie and Dirty World claimed that § 230(c)(1) barred these claims. The district court rejected this argument and denied defendants-appellants' motion to dismiss, motion for summary judgment, motion to revise judgment, and motion for judgment as a matter of law. The district court also denied Richie's and Dirty World's motion for leave to file an interlocutory appeal. The case was submitted to a jury, twice. The first trial ended in a mistrial upon a joint  [**3] motion. The second trial resulted in a verdict in favor of Jones for $38,000 in compensatory damages and $300,000 in punitive damages. On appeal, Richie and Dirty World maintain that § 230(c)(1) barred Jones's claims.

This is a case of first impression in this circuit. In Doe v. SexSearch.com, we "explicitly reserve[d] the question of [the] scope [of the CDA] for another day." 551 F.3d 412, 416 (6th Cir. 2008). We now consider when a website is not an "information content provider" under 47 U.S.C. § 230(f)(3) with respect to information it publishes such that § 230(c)(1) bars state-law tort claims predicated on that information.

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755 F.3d 398 *; 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 11106 **; 2014 FED App. 0125P (6th Cir.) ***; 42 Media L. Rep. 1984; 2014 WL 2694184

SARAH JONES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. DIRTY WORLD ENTERTAINMENT RECORDINGS LLC, et al., Defendants, HOOMAN KARAMIAN, aka Nik Richie, aka Corbin Grimes; DIRTY WORLD, LLC, dba thedirty.com, Defendants-Appellants.

Prior History:  [**1] Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky at Covington. No. 2:09-cv-00219—William O. Bertelsman, District Judge.

Jones v. Dirty World Entm't Recordings, LLC, 965 F. Supp. 2d 818, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 113031 (E.D. Ky., 2013)

CORE TERMS

website, Dirty, users, Roommates, defamatory, third-party, displayed, internet, Nik, interactive, defamation, online, discriminatory, editorial, cheerleader, Bengals, message, teacher, photographs, uploaded, edits, subscribers, quotation, ratifying, creator, libel, site, confidential, anonymously, orientation

Civil Procedure, Appeals, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Trials, Judgment as Matter of Law, Postverdict Judgment, Preverdict Judgment, Defenses, Demurrers & Objections, Affirmative Defenses, Immunity, Reviewability of Lower Court Decisions, Preservation for Review, Business & Corporate Compliance, Computer & Internet Law, Civil Actions, Service Provider Liability, Communications Law, Federal Acts, Telecommunications Act, Communications Decency Act, Computer & Internet Law, Defamation