The complaint was filed Monday by an anti-bullying foundation and the estate of a bullied 16-year-old who committed suicide. It comes a week after a federal appeals court allowed another California suit to proceed involving Snap—that one over the crash deaths of two teens who were allegedly using the app’s since-discontinued speedometer function.
“In light of the serious allegations raised by the lawsuit,” Snap spokeswoman Kelsey Donohue said in an emailed statement sent to Bloomberg Law Tuesday, “and out of an abundance of caution for the safety of the Snapchat community, we are suspending both YOLO and LMK’s Snap Kit integrations while we investigate these claims.”
The estate of Carson Bride; Bride’s mother, Kristin Bride; and the Tyler Clementi Foundation say Snap and the other companies should be held liable for developing and marketing the anonymous messaging apps Snapchat, YOLO, and LMK.
The apps “are inherently dangerous and defective,” and the companies falsely promised safeguards, the plaintiffs allege in the new suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. YOLO and LMK allegedly operate within Snapchat.
The plaintiffs also say the app makers aren’t protected as publishers of online content. “The claims in this action are not about third-party users’ communications,” they say in the complaint.
The Communications Decency Act of 1996 provides immunity to internet platforms for publishing users’ speech, but some suits have been allowed to proceed when the claim stems from a program or website’s architecture.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reinstated May 4 the suit over Snapchat’s speed-recording function, saying the parents of those teenagers aren’t barred by the CDA from suing over a high-speed crash.
The estate and the foundation seek to represent nationwide classes of users of each app between the ages of 13 and 17.
Causes of Action: Strict liability, negligence, fraudulent misrepresentation, negligent misrepresentation, and violations of consumer protection law.
Potential Class Size: Millions, the complaint estimates.
Relief: Injunctions banning YOLO and LMK until they can show effective safeguards and requiring Snapchat to vet sub-apps; compensatory, statutory, and punitive damages; restitution and disgorgement.
Response: LMK didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. Bloomberg Law was unable to contact Yolo.
Attorneys: Eisenberg & Baum LLP and Buche & Associates PC represent the plaintiffs and the proposed class.
The case is Bride v. Snap, Inc., N.D. Cal., No. 3:21-cv-03473, complaint 5/10/21.