June 23, 2006
I had an interesting discussion of the MySpace case with around 30 Massachusetts judges yesterday (I was teaching a refresher Torts course), so I thought one more post for the short term might be worth it. So, here's a story about additional efforts MySpace is doing, including a picture of Pete Solis, the not-actually-high-school-student who assaulted the 14-year-old plaintiff in the case discussed in the last couple of days.
"If you're 14 or 15, for example, on our site you can no longer be contacted by anyone who's over the age of 18 unless they know who you are. Knowing who you are means they know your first name and your last name or know your e-mail address," said Hemanshu Nigam, Vice President of MySpace security.
Plus this interesting assertion from Solis:
Just this week MySpace got slammed with a $30 million lawsuit after a 14-year-old girl said she was assaulted by 19-year-old Pete Solis. They hooked up on MySpace and met in person a few weeks later. Solis says he's just as much a victim because the girl allegedly lied about her age in her MySpace profile.
"It was just a complete shock," Solis said. "I mean, I hadn't seen … I mean I didn't expect anything 'cause I didn't hurt her in any way, and if I did I was sorry."
The complaint acknowledges that the 14-year-old registered when underage (and thus presumably lied then):
...but also asserts that she told him she was 14:
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"It was just a complete shock," Solis said. "I mean, I hadn't seen ... I mean I didn't expect anything 'cause I didn't hurt her in any way, and if I did I was sorry."
This in particular makes me very curious what exactly occurred. What we know is they met, exchanged phone numbers, went on a date, and there was some sort of "sexual assault."
Maybe it's the cynic in me, but I'm going to throw this scenario out there. Julie and Pete start chatting on MySpace. One thing leads to another, they exchange phone numbers, and finally decide to meet up. Things get a little hot and heavy on the date, mother Jane finds out about it, and rather than considering that her "pure and innocent daughter" may be no such thing, she reports it as sexual assault and sues MySpace for providing a service. Textbook example of both a disturbing cultural tendency to pass the responsibility buck, and the good old Deep Pockets theory.
Like I said: cynical. There's no evidence yet that says things happened this way...nor is there any evidence that Pete's a complete scumbag as they would have us believe. Fact is, we don't yet know the full story. However, reading the original petition...I have an instinctual aversion to the "won't somebody please think of the children!" argument, and describing the plaintiff as "14-year old Julie" at every chance just reeks of it.
We're also now looking at the possibility of another suit against MySpace -- this one from Pete.
"MySpace wasn't there when they went to Whataburger. MySpace wasn't there when they went to the movie and MySpace wasn't there when they climbed in the backseat," Reposa said. "Meeting on MySpace — if that alone is enough, then we can make the same claim for damages."
The only thing about this case that frightens me more than the validity of that point...is that a jury might buy it.
Posted by: Matt Wester | Jun 23, 2006 10:12:47 AM
Does anyone know how the case ended?
WGC: The case related to Solis was dismissed, though I believe the attorneys intended to refile. I don't know if they have..
Posted by: Mag | Nov 18, 2007 12:26:20 PM