Joseph VanZandt leads the firm’s Social Media Litigation Team, handling cases against Meta Platforms, Inc., Facebook and Instagram’s parent company, and other social media companies like Snapchat and TikTok. The team represents several hundred families across the U.S. accusing the social media giants of knowingly exploiting adolescents for profit.
On Aug. 1, Beasley Allen filed a motion before the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) to consolidate 28 cases against Meta, Instagram LLC and several other subsidiaries. The product liability lawsuits seek to hold the social media platform defendants liable for employing technologies and features known to be highly addictive to young people.
The lawsuits allege that Meta develops and implements sophisticated algorithms that encourage adolescents to frequently access its platforms and services. Prolonged exposure to the social media content provided by these platforms has resulted in self-harm, including attempted and actual suicides, severe anxiety, depression, eating disorders, sleeping disorders, and other reported injuries. Facebook documents brought to light by a whistleblower revealed that the company has known for years how psychologically and physically damaging its platforms are to youth, especially to young girls.
Meta responded to the firm’s motion on Aug. 30. The company agreed that the lawsuits shared enough common factual and legal issues to warrant consolidation. TikTok, Snap, and YouTube filed responses opposing the consolidation of the cases naming them as defendants.
On Sept. 6, Beasley Allen’s Social Media Litigation Team filed a reply asking the JPML to include TikTok, Snap, and YouTube in the MDL.. The JPML heard our team’s arguments for consolidation in a Sept. 29 hearing. On Oct. 10, the JPML rejected TikTok, Snap, and YouTube’s objections, finding that the defendants’ actions share common questions of fact, and included those named defendants in an MDL along with Meta. The panel also noted that any individualized factual issues that may arise would not be enough to “negate the efficiencies to be gained by centralization.”
The JPML centralized the cases in the Northern District of California, where many defendants operate. The MDL will be litigated in the Oakland court.
Joseph VanZandt commented on the recent developments in the case, saying:
Beasley Allen is pleased with the JPML’s centralization order and the opportunity to obtain justice fairly and efficiently on behalf of the plaintiffs in the Northern District of California. We intend to hold Meta accountable for the damage they have done to youth throughout this country.