After two years of litigation, Omegle.com LLC, the online chat room that facilitates anonymous video streaming between strangers age 13+ (“Talk to a Stranger”), has shut down forever as a result of our client A.M.’s courageous lawsuit. This is an incredible victory for our firm, for our client A.M., and for people everywhere who have been through abuse at the hands of tech platforms that have failed to protect their users.
Starting at the age of 11, A.M. endured three years of coerced sexual servitude to a pedophile who gained access to her through Omegle. It started when a nearly 40-year-old man quickly gained her trust and procured naked photos and videos of A.M. and used blackmail to secure more. For three years, he forced her to continuously engage in sexual performances for him and his friends at his beck and call, and also dispatched her back onto Omegle to recruit other children for him to abuse.
In 2021, Carrie Goldberg and Naomi Leeds of C.A. Goldberg, PLLC and Barb Long of Vogt & Long PC filed the lawsuit in the District of Oregon against Omegle.com LLC for violating product liability and sex trafficking laws.
The experimental lawsuit made groundbreaking new case law in two areas: product liability and trafficking. It’s one of the few cases in history against an online service provider where plaintiffs overcame Section 230 defenses. The theory, first advanced by us in a 2014 case and then again in the 2017 case Herrick v Grindr, rested on the idea that Omegle’s fundamental product defects made the harm to our client foreseeable. In this case, the defect was its random pairing of adults and children – conduct by the platform that was independent of and preceded any user-to-user content. Additionally, we created new case law in trafficking, contending that Omegle was not just the beneficiary of the predator’s trafficking conduct, but that Omegle itself was a trafficking venture. As a venture, we successfully argued, Omegle need not have specific knowledge of the predator’s use of its platform. Rather, it was enough to plead that Omegle knew that this type of abuse was ubiquitous and that Omegle was deriving revenue from it.
While Omegle shutting down forever is a victory in itself, another monumental win is the very last sentence in the goodbye written by the platform’s founder and posted on Omegle.com: “I thank A.M. for opening my eyes to the human toll of Omegle.” It then links to our lawsuit filed in 2021 so everybody can read it for themselves.
While it was a huge decision to settle the case without a trial, the cessation of Omegle was our client’s greatest hope all along.
This strikes us as a historic and creative resolution as Omegle has finally ended its 15-year reign of torment, and justice has been served. We’re so very proud of the work we’ve done, our refusal to listen to the naysayers who doubted our Section 230 theories, and for the strength and courage of A.M. In every way this is a case about perseverance.
The legal team was comprised of Carrie Goldberg and Naomi Leeds of C.A. Goldberg, PLLC and Barb Long of Long Law PC.
Our fight against big tech is not over, and our work continues.
- A. Goldberg PLLC and Our Client A.M. in Exclusive BBC Interview: OMEGLE: ‘HOW I GOT THE DANGEROUS CHAT SITE CLOSED DOWN’
- Blog: TECH’S ONLINE CONTENT SHIELD DENTED BY PRODUCT LIABILITY CLAIMS
- Blog: OMEGLE LAWSUIT UPDATE: C.A. GOLDBERG SECTION 230 CASE PREVAILS ON PRODUCT LIABILITY CLAIMS
- Blog: WHITE HOUSE LAUNCHES TASK FORCE TO ADDRESS ONLINE HARASSMENT AND ABUSE: CARRIE GOLDBERG’S REMARKS
- Blog: A. GOLDBERG, PLLC AND VOGT & LONG PC FILE PRODUCT LIABILITY LAWSUIT AGAINST OMEGLE FOR SEX TRAFFICKING MINOR
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