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Judge dismisses lawsuit against Facebook by family of man seen killed on social media site

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Posted at 7:32 PM, Oct 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-17 19:32:59-04

A Cuyahoga County Common Pleas judge has dismissed a lawsuit against Facebook by the family of a man whose shooting death was posted on the social media site.

Robert Godwin Sr. was shot and killed on Easter of 2017 by Steven Stephens. Stephens Facebook lived the whole thing. 

Godwin's daughter, Debbie, filed a lawsuit on behalf of his estate Jan. 19. 

RELATED: Family of Robert Godwin Sr. — whose shooting death was posted to Facebook — sues social network

The lawsuit alleged that:

  • On April 16, 2017, the Facebook Defendants, through their  own  conduct  of mining, collecting, assessing, controlling and/or analyzing information from  their  users  in furtherance of their commercial enterprise as described herein, had actual and/or constructive knowledge/notice that one of their users, Steve Stephens, had engaged in  criminal  conduct  by making  intimidating  and coercive  threats  of violence...
  • The Facebook Defendants took no action in response to the information they collected despite having prior knowledge/notice of Mr. Stephens' ownership and use of firearms which were suggestive of his violent tendencies.
  • A few minutes later, the Facebook  Defendants,  again through their own conduct as described herein, had actual and/or constructive knowledge/notice that Steve Stephens was not willing to wait any longer for a response from Facebook before he began his criminal activity.
  • The Facebook Defendants took no action in response to the information they collected.
  • As time passed, the Facebook Defendants, again through their own conduct as described herein, had actual and/or constructive knowledge/notice that Steve Stephens' criminal activity was imminent when he engaged in further criminal conduct by reiterating his intent to commit random acts of murder on the public and he specifically identified himself and his location.
  • The Facebook Defendants took no action in response to the information they collected.
  • hereafter, the Facebook Defendants, again through their own conduct as described herein, had actual and/or constructive knowledge/notice that  Steve Stephens had murdered Robert Godwin Sr, on the public streets, just minutes from the location where he previously advised the Facebook Defendants of his criminal intentions.
  • Still, the Facebook Defendants took no action in response to the information they collected. However, the Facebook Defendants possessed this knowledge, and the ability to alert law enforcement, with more than sufficient time to act and prevent Robert Godwin, Sr.'s death.

The judge said in a written statement filed October 5 that Facebook did not know of any violent acts before the murder of Godwin. 

The lawsuit against Stephens' is still pending.