Cuyahoga County Judge Dismisses Suit Against Facebook in Steve Stephens Easter Shooting

click to enlarge Steve Stephens
Steve Stephens
Earlier this month, Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Judge Timothy McCormick dismissed Facebook from a suit that would have held the tech company liable in the shooting death of Charles Godwin, Sr. last Easter.

The shooter in that case, Steve Stephens, broadcast the homicide in a video he posted to Facebook. He then led law enforcement on a two-day manhunt that culminated in his suicide in Erie, Pa.  Lawyers for the Godwin family argued in a January suit that Facebook had a legal responsibility to notify authorities once Stephens made his murderous intentions known in a post minutes before the shooting. 

Facebook's local lawyer argued in a motion to dismiss that the tech giant had no such responsibility. And even if it did, there was no way the company could have interpreted Stephens' post as a credible threat, or one that they could have done anything to prevent.

"There is no doubt that Mr. Godwin's murder was a senseless tragedy, and his family has Facebook's deepest sympathy," the motion read. "But there is no basis in law or logic to hold Facebook liable for that tragedy."

Though Facebook is no longer legally liable, the Godwin family lawsuit also seeks damages from Stephens' estate. Those claims were unaffected by Judge McCormick's ruling on Oct. 5.  

About The Author

Sam Allard

Sam Allard is the Senior Writer at Scene, in which capacity he covers politics and power and writes about movies when time permits. He's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and the NEOMFA at Cleveland State. Prior to joining Scene, he was encamped in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on an...
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