Internet Law

Defamation: Public Website Postings

By on December 27, 2012 - Comments off

Chaker v. Mateo, (Fourth District, October 4, 2012) — Cal.Rptr.3d —-, 12 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 11,371, 2012 WL 4711885

A man who owned a forensics business filed an action for defamation against his former girlfriend, her mother and others, alleging that they had posted defamatory material about him on a social networking website and on a website where member of the public can comment on the reliability and honesty of various providers of goods and services. The complaint alleged that the defendants had posted accusations that he was, inter alia, a criminal and a “deadbeat dad” and “is into illegal activities.”

The former girlfriend’s mother filed a motion to strike the complaint under Code of Civil Procedure § 425.15, (the Anti-SLAPP law), contending that the plaintiff’s claims arose from her exercise of the right to free speech. The trial court granted the motion and the court of appeal affirmed, holding that the plaintiff had failed to establish that there was a probability of prevailing on his claim, in that it could not be concluded that the comments would be interpreted as anything more than name-calling: Read the rest »

Posted in: Internet Law


Emotional Distress: Consumer Review Websites

By on January 23, 2011 - Comments off

Wong v. Tai Jing (2010) 189 Cal.App.4th 1354, 117 Cal.Rptr.3d 747

A man who was upset over the treatment his son had received from a pediatric dentist posted a number of criticisms of the dentist on, a website which posts consumer reviews of a variety of businesses. The dentist filed suit against the man, asserting causes of action for libel per se and intentional infliction of emotional distress, contending that the defendant’s comments falsely implied the dentist had not warned about mercury in a silver amalgam, that she had misdiagnosed the son’s case, and that she had improperly used a general anesthetic. The postings also included, “I wish there were a “0” star [] rating. Avoid her like a disease!”

When the defendant filed a motion to dismiss the action as a strategic lawsuit against public participation under the Anti-SLAPP statute (C.C.P. 425.16) the trial court denied the motion, finding that although the action arose from protected speech, the plaintiff had established a probability of success on the merits. The court of appeal held that the trial court had properly denied the motion as to the libel cause of action, but found that the causes of action for emotional distress should have been dismissed, in that the plaintiff’s response to the posting was not sufficiently severe or serious: Read the rest »

Posted in: Internet Law, Negligence


Premises Liability: Social Networking Websites

By on May 11, 2010 - Comments off

Melton v. Boustred, (Sixth District, March 12, 2010) — Cal.Rptr.3d —-, 2010 WL 881919

Three men who were attacked, beaten and stabbed by a group of unknown individuals while attending a party at a private residence filed suit against the homeowner on various theories including negligence, premises liability and public nuisance. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendant had advertised the party using an open invitation on the social networking website,, and that the use of the internet to promote his party had constituted an unlimited, unrestricted and widely broadcasted invitation to the general public to converge at his property. The plaintiffs further alleged that the defendant was negligent in actively creating an “out-of-control and dangerous public MySpace party” in that the unrestricted invitation exposed the plaintiffs and other guests to an unreasonable risk of bodily harm arising from an unregulated publically advertised event involving consumption of alcohol without restriction on the number or identity of persons attending.

The trial court sustained a demurrer to the first amended complaint without leave to amend, and the court of appeal affirmed, concluding that the defendant had no legal duty, since the facts involved neither misfeasance nor a special relationship with the plaintiffs: Read the rest »

Posted in: Internet Law


Social Networking Websites: Content Provided by Third Parties

By on September 22, 2009 - Comments off

Doe II v. MySpace Incorporated, (Second District, June 30, 2009) 175 Cal.App.4th 561, 96 Cal.Rptr.3d 148, 09 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 8401, 2009 Daily Journal D.A.R. 9774

Four minor females filed separate lawsuits against the social networking website,, alleging that they had all been sexually assaulted by adults whom they had met on the website. The plaintiffs alleged that MySpace was aware that its website poses a danger to children by facilitating attempted and actual sexual assault, and that MySpace failed to institute reasonable measures to prevent older users from directly searching out, finding, and/or communicating with minors.

The defendant demurred to complaints based upon the immunity provisions of the Communications Decency Act (47 U.S.C. §230), which immunizes interactive computer services providers who are not information content providers from liability for information originating from third-party users of their service. The trial court sustained the demurrers without leave to amend and the court of appeal affirmed, holding that MySpace is not an information content provider, and is not liable for content provided by third-party users: Read the rest »

Posted in: Internet Law, Technology