Designer Skin LLC v. S & L Vitamins, Inc., et al.
Ben Ezra, Weinstein and Company, Inc. v. AOL
27 Med. L. Reptr. 1794(D.N.M., Mar. 1, 1999), aff'd. 206 F.3d 980 (10th Cir.,Mar. 14, 2000), cert. denied, 531 U.S. 824 (Oct. 2, 2000)
Plaintiff Ben Ezra, Weinstein & Company ("BEW") claimed that the value of its stock was inaccurately reported on defendant America OnLine's ("AOL") interactive computer service. Plaintiff brought suit seeking to recover damages allegedly sustained as a result of this activity on theories of defamation and negligence.
The court found that the information at issue was supplied to AOL by third-party content providers. AOL, in turn, made this information available to its subscribers in the "Quotes and Portfolios" area of its site.
AOL argued that the immunity granted it as a provider of "an interactive computer service" under 47 U.S.C. §230 mandated dismissal of these claims. The court agreed, and granted defendant AOL's motion for summary judgment.
The Defendant clearly qualifies for this immunity. There is no dispute that AOL is an "interactive computer service" as defined by Section 230. Moreover ... there is no evidence in the record which contradicts the AOL declarant's statements that all of the allegedly defamatory information was created "in whole or in part" by the third party "information content providers" ComStock and Townsend. ... Applying this immunity to the claims made by the Plaintiff require their dismissal.
The court reached this conclusion notwithstanding the fact that AOL attempted to rectify the errors by deleting information at the request of ComStock. Said the court:
Nor does AOL's participation in establishing or maintaining its connection to the ComStock data stream or its efforts to get its vendors to correct errors in their service constitute creating or developing the information content provided by ComStock and Townsend.
The full text of this decision can be found on a web site maintained by America Online.