- Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
- Area(s) of Law: Civil Law
- Date Filed: 10-24-2022
- Case #: 21-56293
- Judge(s)/Court Below: Milan D. Smith, Jr. and Ryan D. Nelson, Circuit Judges, and Gershwin A. Drain, District Judge. Opinion by Judge Smith.
- Full Text Opinion
"Redit" users circulated sexually explicit images of minors online. Plaintiffs initiated a class-action lawsuit under the federal civil sex trafficking statute. Plaintiffs assigned error to the district court for dismissing their claim. On appeal, Plaintiffs argued that under the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (“FOSTA”), section 230 immunity, which shields websites from liability for content posted by users, does not extend to child sex trafficking claims if the “conduct underlying the claim” violates the criminal child sex trafficking statute, 18 U.S.C. §1591. Therefore, Reddit could be liable as a beneficiary if a user violated the criminal statute and the claim against the website stems from that violation. In response, Reddit argued a website can be liable only for its own criminal conduct. “To hold a defendant criminally liable as a beneficiary of sex trafficking, the defendant must have actually engaged in some aspect of the sex trafficking.” United States v. Afyare, 632 F. App’x 272, 286 (6th Cir. 2016). The Court reasoned that Plaintiffs’ allegations failed to prove Reddit knowingly facilitated or benefitted from the circulation of child pornography, and there was no causal connection between the child pornography and Reddit’s revenue. The Court held the Plaintiffs failed to state their claim. Affirmed.