HOUSTON, April 12, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — A Texas state appellate court panel has rejected Facebook, Inc.’s latest attempts to avoid facing alleged sex trafficking victims in court, according to the victims’ lawyers at Annie McAdams PC, The Gallagher Law Firm, and Sico Hoelscher Harris LLP
In a ruling today, the Fourteenth Court of Appeals of Texas panel affirmed a trial court’s earlier denial of Facebook’s jurisdictional appeal. The new ruling follows an unprecedented one last year by the Texas Supreme Court which allowed alleged sex trafficking survivors to sue Facebook under a Texas anti-trafficking law. Facebook also has failed for nearly three years to have the Jane Doe case thrown out under Section 230 of the federal Communications Decency Act.
In the new ruling, the Fourteenth Court stated, “Texas has a strong interest in protecting citizens of the State by exercising jurisdiction over these types of claims.”
In June 2021, the state supreme court ruled that the trafficking victims could proceed with lawsuits alleging that Facebook violated Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code Chapter 98, an anti-trafficking law passed in 2009. The underlying cases, originally filed in state district courts in Harris County, Texas, allege that Facebook, Inc. benefited from sexual exploitation of the “Jane Doe” trafficking survivors.
The trafficking victims are represented by Annie McAdams of Annie McAdams PC, of Houston; Michael T. Gallagher of The Gallagher Law Firm, of Houston; and David E. Harris and Jeffrey Richter of Sico Hoelscher Harris LLP, of Corpus Christi, Texas.
Annie McAdams, of Annie McAdams PC, said, “These courageous trafficking survivors have fought for three years for their day in court against Facebook. Because of the state Chapter 98 protections, we believe trafficking survivors in Texas can expose and hold accountable businesses such as Facebook that benefit from these crimes of exploitation.”
According to the lawsuits, the social media giant provided “an unrestricted platform to stalk, exploit, recruit, groom, and extort children into the sex trade. Facebook is now the first point of contact between sex traffickers and these children… Facebook not only provides an unrestricted platform for these sex traffickers to target children, but it also cloaks the traffickers with credibility.”
Jeffrey Richter, of Sico Hoelscher Harris LLP, said, “We continue to believe Facebook has an obligation to safeguard its users, both through its online platform and otherwise, of the dangers of human traffickers using Facebook as a tool to entrap and enslave children into sex trafficking.”
In April 2018 testimony before Congress, Facebook Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company had not “taken a broad enough view of Facebook’s responsibility to the community and content.” He added, “We [Facebook] need to make sure that people aren’t using it to harm other people or to spread misinformation. Across the board we have a responsibility to not just build tools, but to make sure they’re used for good.”
The appellate case is “Facebook, Inc., Appellant v. Jane Doe, Appellee,” No. 14-19-00854 in the Fourteenth Court of Appeals of Texas. The underlying cases, from the state district courts, are Cause Nos. 2018-69816, 2018-82214, and 2019-16262.
Media Contact: Erin Powers, Powers MediaWorks LLC, for Annie McAdams PC, [email protected], 281.703.6000.
SOURCE Annie McAdams, PC