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News Release: Belluck & Fox Secures a Major Win for Survivors of the Buffalo Mass Shooting in a Lawsuit Against Social Media Companies

[NEW YORK, NY, March 18, 2024] – Belluck & Fox LLP, part of the legal team representing the victims of the Buffalo mass shooting in 2022, has successfully opposed the motions to dismiss filed by social media defendants. Seth Dymond of Belluck & Fox and the legal team successfully argued that social media platforms can constitute products as defined by New York law and under the particular circumstances of this case, meaning the defendants may be subject to product liability.

On May 14, 2022, a racially motivated massacre occurred at the Tops Friendly Markets supermarket on the East Side of Buffalo, NY. The shooter, Payton Gendron, held white supremacist beliefs and was driven by white replacement ideology. To carry out this heinous attack, he intentionally targeted a historically black neighborhood and traveled a considerable distance from his home. The criminal attorney for Gendron conceded that the crime was fueled by racist hate disseminated through online platforms.

Plaintiffs, which include family members of the victims and survivors of the May 14th massacre, filed their lawsuits against social media companies and others. The plaintiffs allege that these defendants had a significant role in promoting and disseminating racist ideologies, resulting in the racially motivated massacre at Tops. They allege that the defendants’ platforms are not merely message boards with user-generated content but are highly advanced products intentionally designed to captivate and addict young users, and to feed them information, even when unsolicited. The plaintiffs allege that the defendants’ products indoctrinated assailant Gendron and then steered him towards other posts that promoted the “white replacement theory.” Gendron pleaded guilty to charges including murder and terrorism motivated by hate and was sentenced in February 2023 to life in prison without parole. He also faces federal hate crime charges in which the government has indicated it intends to seek the death penalty.

The defendants, including META Platforms, Snap, Inc., Alphabet, Inc., Google, LLC, YouTube, LLC, Discord, Inc., Reddit, Inc., Amazon.com, Inc., and 4Chan Community Support, LLC, filed motions to dismiss. They claimed their platforms only act as hosts of third-party content and that they are immune from liability under the Communications Decency Act (CDA) and the First Amendment.

The decision denying the motions to dismiss is the first in the nation to give victims the ability to seek justice based on the nature of the products manufactured and marketed by social media companies.

Belluck & Fox will continue to advocate on behalf of plaintiffs to ensure social media platforms are held liable for any potential harm and associated dangers. The platforms should be suitably designed to prevent danger to users and others, and social media companies should be responsible for warning users of the potential risks of content and for implementing the necessary measures to ensure that all users have access to a safe and inclusive online environment.

For a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys, contact Belluck & Fox today if you or a loved one have suffered serious harm due to social media usage.

About Belluck & Fox LLP
Belluck & Fox, founded on the philosophy of pursuing justice, one family at a time, has been dedicated to fighting for justice and securing compensation for its clients. Belluck & Fox law firm specializes in wrongful death lawsuits involving a variety of circumstances including nursing home abuse or neglect, workplace accidents, public transportation disasters, motor vehicle accidents, and defective products. While no amount of financial compensation can replace the loss of a loved one, victims’ families should be compensated fairly for the wrongful death, providing them with a degree of financial comfort and justice for those left behind.

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