Beasley Allen lawyers filed a petition on behalf of 28 plaintiffs asking the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) to consolidate the cases for pretrial proceedings.
“Our clients seek to hold Facebook, Instagram, and other social media companies accountable for exploiting adolescents during their formative years,” said Beasley Allen attorney Joseph VanZandt. “The defendants intentionally designed products to be addictive. They used sophisticated algorithms that manipulate users to increase time and engagement on the platforms, despite knowledge of devastating harm to its most vulnerable users.”
The complaint explains that one of our clients, began using the defendants’ products at 10 years old. They soon began showing signs of addiction and “problematic use” of the products. They claim that the products’ addictive design “and the constant 24-hour stream of notifications” from the defendant fueled harmful behavior, causing their sleep to decrease.
Further, our client also describes the “struggle psychologically with self-image and relationship with food” because of the constant flood of images and videos “altered by the platforms’ appearance and beauty enhancing product features.” These altered images were “curated to the client by the platforms’ algorithms.” The psychological harm they experienced also resulted in other “injuries including social media compulsion, disordered eating, depression, body dysmorphic disorder, multiple periods of suicidal ideation, severe anxiety, self-harm, and a reduced inclination or ability to sleep.”
The plaintiffs’ claims are supported by whistleblower Frances Haugen’s testimony to the U.S. Senate last fall. Haugen, a former Facebook employee, released hundreds of documents showing how the social media platform lied or hid information from the public about several concerning matters, including its impact on young users’ mental health.
Currently, at least 28 lawsuits are filed in 17 different federal courts throughout the country, asserting nearly identical factual allegations and legal claims against defendants Facebook, Instagram, and other social media companies. The plaintiffs asked the panel to consolidate the cases in multidistrict litigation (MDL) and transfer these actions to Judge Sara L. Ellis, United States District Judge, Northern District of Illinois, or alternatively, the Western District of Missouri before Judge Stephen R. Bough.
“The number of similar cases is expected to increase exponentially in the coming months. Transfer and consolidation of these actions will promote the just and efficient conduct of these actions,” VanZandt said.
The plaintiffs are represented by VanZandt and other Beasley Allen lawyers, including Andy Birchfield, the firm’s Mass Torts Section Head, Jennifer Emmel, Ph.D., J.D., Clinton Richardson, Suzanne Clark, Davis Vaughn, Sydney Everett, and Seth Harding.