MANHATTAN (CN) – A federal judge dismissed a shooting victim’s lawsuit against Craigslist, which posted ads of a gun dealer who sold the weapon used to injure him.
Calvin Gibson was shot six times by his East Village neighbor, who allegedly told police he bought the gun from a classified ad on the popular Web site.
Gibson claimed Craigslist breached its “duty of care to ensure that inherently hazardous objects, such as handguns” do not come into the hands of people such as the gunman.
Jesus Ortiz, the alleged gunman, “has a psychiatric history and a history of violent crime,” Gibson claimed, and “could never have legally obtained the handgun.”
He sued for negligence and sought $10 million.
Craigslist sought dismiss under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, claiming immunity for content posted by its users.
But Gibson argued that Section 230 does not apply to common law claims such as negligence.
U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman backed up Craigslist, ruling that the law insulates the Web site from liability because it satisfied the three-pronged test for immunity under the CDA.
First, Craigslist was an “Internet merchant,” which the plaintiff did not dispute, Berman wrote.
Second, the advertisement originated from an “unknown individual,” not from the defendant, and was placed in a coded category on the Web site.
Third, Gibson was “seeking to hold defendant liable for its alleged failure to prevent the dissemination of third party content.” Berman added, “It’s clear that plaintiff’s claims are directed toward Craigslist as a ‘publisher’ of third party content.”
Gibson argued that the amended complaint did not treat the Web site as a publisher but as a business.
Gibson’s attorney said that “discovery should be had to determine what efforts, if any, defendant made to stop the selling of illegal goods and services on its Web site.”
Judge Berman rebuffed the argument, writing, “Given the allegations, the application of the CDA is a question of law and will not be affected by discovery.”