Appeals Court Tosses Cop's Attempt To Hold Twitter Responsible For Him Being Shot By A Gunman

from the law-firms-must-be-hoping-for-a-first-round-draft-pick dept

The 1-800-LAW-FIRM/Excolo Law losing streak continues. The lawyers at those firms have been preying on the victims of terrorist attacks for a few years now, presumably promising them some form of justice that can only be obtained by filing futile, flawed, completely doomed lawsuits that attempt to hold social media companies directly responsible for the criminal acts of terrorists.

This lawsuit -- facing its second rejection in a row -- was one of the stupidest filed by these law firms. Jesus Retana, a Dallas police officer, was wounded during a mass shooting perpetrated by Micah Johnson. The lawsuit attempted to use the AITA (Anti-International Terrorism Act) to hold Twitter responsible for the alleged "radicalization" of Johnson by Hamas, an entity the US government has declared a terrorist organization.

The Fifth Circuit Appeals Court finds this attempt to tie Twitter to Micah Johnson and his shooting of Dallas police officers as legally unbelievable as the lower court did. There's no discussion of Section 230 immunity, which would shield Twitter from this litigation, because the rest of the allegations are so baseless there's no reason to bring it up. (h/t Eric Goldman)

The court says [PDF] not only is there no link between Hamas, Twitter, and Micah Johnson, there's also no link between Hamas and the shooting in Dallas. And there's certainly no international terrorism justifying the accusations of Twitter's supposed violation of international terrorism laws.

An act of international terrorism is one that “occur[s] primarily outside the territorial jurisdiction of the United States, or transcend[s] national boundaries.” We cannot conclude that the Dallas shooting transcended national boundaries. We sympathize with Plaintiffs, but this shooting was committed by a lone shooter entirely within the United States. He might have been radicalized in part by Hamas, but Hamas did not plan the shooting or even take credit for it.

There's also no connection between Johnson and Hamas in the 96 pages of the original lawsuit, nor in its current amended state. Linking Johnson to Hamas is crucial, especially if the plaintiffs want to claim Twitter helped Hamas radicalize the shooter. That link simply isn't there.

Johnson was a self-radicalized shooter who merely “liked” the Facebook pages of “black separatist hate groups” that had communicated with Hamas. And, while Johnson met with Ms. X and indicated that he sympathized with Hamas’s objectives, that occurred two years prior to the Dallas shooting.

It was a shooting perpetrated by a US citizen on US soil with no solid ties to any international terrorist group. No international terrorist group took credit for the attack. There was no international terrorism. The AITA claim fails. Again.

So does the allegation of secondary liability.

We also hold that Defendants did not “knowingly” and “substantial[ly]” assist Hamas in the Dallas shooting, again because the shooting was committed by Johnson alone and not by Hamas either alone or in conjunction with Johnson. The district court was correct in concluding that Defendants are not secondarily liable under the ATA.

This case was dismissed by the district court in December 2019. At that point, it was these law firms' TWELFTH straight loss in federal courts. That win-loss record hasn't improved since then. Unfortunately, these firms seem to have no problem finding new victims of terrorist acts to use as fodder for DOA lawsuits.

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Filed Under: blame, intermediary liability, jesus retana, micha johnson, responsibility, terrorism
Companies: 1-800-lawfirm, excolo law, twitter

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  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 24 Jun 2021 @ 5:58am

    Oh look my shocked face...

    They keep filing cases without merit, preying on citizens who think that the system would keep bad lawyers from ripping them off, telling them how they can be rich because we can just blame the deepest pockets.

    Something something so worried about the image of the profession that they can no longer do anything to clean up the bad actors or people might think the profession isn't squeaky clean.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Brent Ashley (profile), 24 Jun 2021 @ 6:58am


    Yes, Excolo Law, you are TA

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 24 Jun 2021 @ 7:50am

    Next, they should sue Dallas, because the shooting happened on Dallas property. Yeesh!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Jun 2021 @ 9:14am

    Obviously hoping for settlement

    The only justification can think of for any of this is that the "lawyers" (I use the term loosely) are probably hoping that simply filing an antiterroist suit will scare the undershorts off of the "perpetrators" and get them to settle out of court without even going to trial.

    Problem is, they keep picking targets that actually have lawyers on staff; those lawyers get paid whether are playing pencil-ceiling mumblety-peg, or in a courtroom.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 24 Jun 2021 @ 9:21am

    'And here's today's lawsuit, ready to pay us to leave yet?'

    The messed up thing is that even with such a losing streak I can understand why they keep filing such laughably bad lawsuits because as has been shown with the link tax if you keep pushing large companies eventually they will cave, and with what promises to be a hefty 'go away' settlement(the first of many I'm sure) in the wings I imagine they consider such efforts an investment towards future gains.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 24 Jun 2021 @ 10:22am

    With their legal reasoning abilities, Jhon Smith and Portent would fit right at Excolo.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 24 Jun 2021 @ 12:45pm


    Against the poor get you nothing.'
    Filing against the estate of the person gets you? nothing.
    Find a rich person and make an idiot of yourself.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    BG (profile), 25 Jun 2021 @ 3:50am

    Who is paying for these "cases"

    At this point it's fair to ask who is funding these cases? As a business model it's well past the point of being reasonable to think it's a lucrative revenue stream, unless the board / senior partners are ideologically on board with cases that are fundamentally flawed to this level. I know groupthink is a thing but this seems beyond that at this point in time.

    Even if they somehow get a win from a complete fuckwit of a judge this type of case will be appealed all the way to the Supreme Court 'cos Twitter, etc. has the funds to keep the appeals process going, where it will be overturned (and rightly so) ... if it wasn't already overturned along the way.

    Given the large number of politically and financially motivated attacks on Big Tech in recent years I'm curious if an external party is funding these attempts to hold a platform responsible for the acts of an independent person committing crimes. It smells a bit too much of bullshit shenanigans we've seen around to think these guys are doing this by themselves?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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