Motley Rice seeks to coordinate Instagram addiction cases in California state court

Families of young children and teens who allege Instagram knowingly addicted them and created a growing mental health crisis should be allowed to coordinate their claims against the social media giant in California’s state courts, Motley Rice LLP and co-counsel Wagstaffe, von Loewenfeldt, Busch & Radwick LLP told the state’s Judicial Council on Thursday. 

California law allows for the coordination of complex cases that are based on similar facts and allegations. The Judicial Council oversees the coordination of such cases within the state (which are known as Judicial Council Coordination Proceedings, or JCCPs). 

In their petition to the Council, plaintiffs represented by Motley Rice and co-counsel argued that measures should be taken to streamline cases against Instagram and its parent company Meta (formerly Facebook) for families of children who are coping with body dysmorphia, eating disorders, suicidal thoughts, and other severe mental health challenges allegedly caused by the platform. People harmed may be eligible to file Facebook or related mental health lawsuits.

Plaintiffs allege Instagram used algorithms that were designed to addict children and teens to the product. Documents revealed by a whistleblower in 2021 indicate that the defendants have known for years that Instagram has a toxic effect on the mental health of children, and in particular teen girls, lawsuits filed against the companies allege. Instead of addressing the issue or warning consumers of the potential harm, Instagram downplayed and ignored internal and external research about the safety risks, in order to boost user growth, the plaintiffs allege. 

The defendants are also accused of giving misleading statements in marketing materials and when testifying before Congress. Causes of action cited in the lawsuits include product liability, failure to warn, negligence, infliction of emotional distress and concealment.

Laura Ashman, 21, is a Motley Rice client and one of six victims who joined in the petition to the JCCP. The young woman attempted to take her life three times as a child due to her addiction to Instagram. She began using the platform when she was roughly 12 years old and scrolled the site for up to 10 hours a day. 

“The number of children struggling with an addiction to Instagram seems to grow by the day,” said Motley Rice attorney for the plaintiffs, Previn Warren. “We are hopeful that the Judicial Council coordinates these cases, which will create a more efficient process for these children and their families.”

Read the full petition to the JCCP. 

Read Laura Ashman’s full complaint. 

About Motley Rice 

Motley Rice LLC is one of the nation’s largest plaintiffs’ litigation firms. With a tradition of representing those whose rights have been violated, Motley Rice attorneys gained recognition for their pioneering asbestos lawsuits, their work with the State Attorneys General in the landmark litigation against Big Tobacco, and their representation of 9/11 families in the ongoing lawsuit against terrorist financiers. 

The firm continues to handle complex litigation in numerous areas, including securities fraud; antitrust; consumer protection; mesothelioma; environmental contamination; prescription and over-the-counter drugs; medical devices; human rights; aviation disasters; and wrongful death. Motley Rice is headquartered in Mt. Pleasant, S.C., and has additional offices in Connecticut; Washington, D.C.; New Jersey; New York; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; and West Virginia. For more information, contact Motley Rice attorney Previn Warren (DC) at 1.800.768.4026 or visit Motley Rice LLC, a South Carolina Limited Liability Company, is engaged in the New Jersey practice of law through Motley Rice New Jersey LLC. Esther Berezofsky is the attorney responsible for New Jersey practice. Motley Rice LLP, a California limited liability partnership, conducts the firm’s California practice.

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