“Material Support for Terrorism” Lawsuit Fails a Third Time–Colon v. Twitter

This lawsuit alleges that social media providers contributed to the 2016 Pulse Nightclub terrorist attack in Orlando that killed 49 people and injured dozens more. If that sounds familiar, that’s because those facts formed the basis of the Crosby v. Twitter litigation from Michigan, which failed in the lower court in 2018 and then on appeal to the Sixth Circuit in 2019. In a litigation move I’ll charitably characterize as tenacious, after the emphatic loss in the 6th Circuit, the plaintiffs’ lawyers immediately recruited new plaintiffs and filed a new lawsuit in Florida over the exact same terrorist attack. The do-over attempt works about as well as you would expect.

The court first criticizes the plaintiffs’ lawyers. The court says that the Florida lawsuit is essentially the same as the Michigan lawsuit, so the court basically says “see Crosby.” The court also doesn’t love the recycled complaint:

For what Plaintiffs’ TAC lacks in substance it makes up for in volume. The TAC is 730 paragraphs and 150 pages long. The length of the TAC itself is likely a violation of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8….For example, the Court finds Plaintiffs’ thirteen-page, seventy-one paragraph dissertation on the history of ISIS—complete with inflammatory graphics—to be almost entirely unnecessary to the substance of the claims. Surely, the TAC is neither short nor plain.

You may also recall that the court previously criticized the plaintiffs’ lawyers for violating local court rules in formatting the complaint, literally measuring the line spacing:

Lack of Causation. The Pulse Nightclub shooter self-radicalized, and ISIS took credit only after the shooting. Those disconnected facts are enough to take the social media defendants out of the causation loop.

Not International Terrorism. The shooting took place in the US. Even if ISIS took credit ex post, that doesn’t make the shooting an act of international terrorism. Instead, this is one of the overwhelming number of acts of domestic terrorism in the past few years.

Leave to Amend? The plaintiffs have made 6 attempts to properly plead the complaint–two in Michigan, and four in Florida. Yet, the court reserves judgment about whether to let plaintiffs amend one more time. Really? In my court, this would almost certainly be sanctions time.

Case citation: Colon v. Twitter, Inc., 6:18-cv-00515-CEM-GJK (M.D. Fla. March 24, 2020)

Prior Blog Posts:

* Twelfth Lawsuit Against Social Media Providers for “Materially Supporting Terrorists” Fails–Retana v. Twitter
Second Circuit Issues Powerful Section 230 Win to Facebook in “Material Support for Terrorists” Case–Force v. Facebook
Eleventh Lawsuit Against Social Media Providers for “Materially Supporting Terrorists” Fails–Palmucci v. Twitter
Another Appellate Court Rejects “Material Support for Terrorist” Claims Against Social Media Platforms–Crosby v. Twitter
Tenth Lawsuit Against Social Media Providers for “Materially Supporting Terrorists” Fails–Sinclair v. Twitter
Ninth Lawsuit Against Social Media Providers for “Materially Supporting Terrorists” Fails–Clayborn v. Twitter
Eighth Lawsuit Against Social Media Providers for “Materially Supporting Terrorists” Fails–Copeland v. Twitter
Seventh Different Lawsuit Against Social Media Providers for “Material Support to Terrorists” Fails–Taamneh v. Twitter
Another Social Media “Material Support to Terrorists” Lawsuit Fails–Cain v. Twitter
“Material Support for Terrorists” Lawsuit Against YouTube Fails Again–Gonzalez v. Google
Fifth Court Rejects ‘Material Support for Terrorism’ Claims Against Social Media Sites–Crosby v. Twitter
Twitter Didn’t Cause ISIS-Inspired Terrorism–Fields v. Twitter
Section 230 Again Preempts Suit Against Facebook for Supporting Terrorists–Force v. Facebook
Fourth Judge Says Social Media Sites Aren’t Liable for Supporting Terrorists–Pennie v. Twitter
Another Court Rejects ‘Material Support To Terrorists’ Claims Against Social Media Sites–Gonzalez v. Google
Facebook Defeats Lawsuit Over Material Support for Terrorists–Cohen v. Facebook
Twitter Defeats ISIS “Material Support” Lawsuit Again–Fields v. Twitter
Section 230 Immunizes Twitter From Liability For ISIS’s Terrorist Activities–Fields v. Twitter