Sued for $30 Million

By John E. Ottaviani

(Eric Goldman is relocating his family to California this week and next, and will be able to post only occasionally. In his absence, John Ottaviani will continue to guest blog from time to time.)

It was only a matter of time. A 14-year-old Texas girl who alleges she was sexually assaulted by a 19-year-old she met on has sued the site for $30,000,000, claiming that it fails to protect minors from adult sexual predators. Here is a report of the complaint from the Austin American-Statesman .’s response: “We take aggressive measures to protect our members.”

Being the parent of teen and pre-teen age children, I am all too familiar with and similar sites. I too question how aggressively really polices its site (type in the name of your local middle school and see how many underage users have become members by lying about their age!). But, I have a hard time seeing that has any legal duty here to protect its members (underage or of age), how it could protect its 14-year old members better than their parents, or whether there is sufficient causation to impose liability on for actions that occurred in the physical world.

We’ll try to get a copy of the complaint and analyze it further. If anyone has a copy, please send it along.

UPDATE: Complaint copy can be found here.