Is a Platform Also a Product? One New York Court Says Yes, and It's Not Alone 

March, 2024 - Thomas P. Kurland, Shelley Attadgie, Jabari Matthew

Last week, a trial court in Buffalo ruled that a group of personal injury plaintiffs’ strict liability claims against a who’s-who of social media companies, arising out of the tragic 2022 Tops Friendly Markets mass shooting, could proceed to discovery, rejecting the argument that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act barred such claims from the get-go. Patterson, Diona Et Al v. Meta Platforms, Et Al, 0805896/2023 (NYSCEF Doc No. 409).

While a significant win for plaintiffs at the pleadings stage, the Patterson court made clear that the claims still face an uphill battle. The key issue to be resolved is whether the algorithms that drive today’s social media apps are just publishing platforms (like a newspaper) that Section 230 is designed to protect, or if they are products designed to perform a specific function, and therefore within the ambit of strict products liability law.

The Patterson decision is just the latest in a growing body of law wrestling with this important question that, absent significant legislative action, will no doubt continue to take shape for years to come.

To continue reading Thomas Kurland, Shelley Attadgie, and Jabari Matthew's article in New York Law Journal, please click here



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