Ninth Circuit Affirms District Court Decision Finding Google Immune From Liability for Third Party Comments

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Ashok Chandra | Bloomberg Law Black v. Google, Inc., No. 10-16992, 2011 BL 281010 (9th Cir. Nov. 1, 2011) In an unpublished opinion, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed a district court decision dismissing defamation claims brought against Google, Inc., finding that Google was immune from liability for a negative third party review of plaintiffs' business. The court found that Google was immune because it was merely an interactive computer service and not an information content provider pursuant to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act ("CDA"), 47 U.S.C. § 230. Pro se plaintiffs Gary Black and Holli Beam-Black alleged that Google allowed a member of the general public to anonymously review their business, and that when they contacted Google, it refused to remove the review. The district court had granted Google's motion to dismiss, finding Google immune from liability for third party content pursuant to the CDA. For a discussion of the earlier case, see Communications Decency Act Immunizes Google from Liability for Third Party Comments, Bloomberg Law Reports – Technology Law, Vol. 2, No. 17 (Aug. 23, 2010). Plaintiffs appealed to the Ninth Circuit. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit held that the district court properly found that plaintiffs' claims were precluded by Section 230(c)(1) of the CDA "because plaintiffs seek to impose liability on Google for content created by a third party." Black at 2; see also Fair Housing Council of San Fernando Valley v., LLC, 521 F.3d 1157 (9th Cir. 2008) (en banc). The Ninth Circuit determined that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying plaintiffs' post-judgment request for reconsideration, and affirmed the district court's dismissal. DisclaimerThis document and any discussions set forth herein are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice, which has to be addressed to particular facts and circumstances involved in any given situation. Review or use of the document and any discussions does not create an attorney-client relationship with the author or publisher. To the extent that this document may contain suggested provisions, they will require modification to suit a particular transaction, jurisdiction or situation. Please consult with an attorney with the appropriate level of experience if you have any questions. Any tax information contained in the document or discussions is not intended to be used, and cannot be used, for purposes of avoiding penalties imposed under the United States Internal Revenue Code. Any opinions expressed are those of the author. The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. and its affiliated entities do not take responsibility for the content in this document or discussions and do not make any representation or warranty as to their completeness or accuracy.©2014 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All rights reserved. Bloomberg Law Reports ® is a registered trademark and service mark of The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc.

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