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

CLEVELAND - The family of Robert Godwin Sr. — whose shooting death was posted via video to Facebook — has filed a lawsuit against the social network. 

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

RELATED: Facebook CEO comments on tragic death of Robert Godwin Sr.: 'We have a lot more to do'

Godwin was shot and killed last Easter Sunday by Steve Stephens. Stephens then uploaded video of the fatal shooting to Facebook. 

The lawsuit alleges 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 lawsuit alleges that Facebook knowingly failed to report Stephens' commission of a felony to law enforcement authorities and, because of that, Godwin was killed "within a reasonable vicinity of Mr. Stephens' location at the time the Facebook defendants learned of his intention to commit murder." 

It states that Facebook's conduct was "intentional, willful, malicious, in bad faith and in reckless disregard for the rights" of Godwin. 

MORE: Family of shooting victim Robert Godwin Sr. remembers a quiet man whose actions spoke volumes

The lawsuit seeks an amount in excess of $25,000 for compensatory damages, punitive damages, the costs, expenses and attorney's fees incurred by the plaintiff and "any further relief" the court deems appropriate. 

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