A New Jersey federal court has rejected a lawsuit filed against Grindr by a man who claims the hook-up app should have prevented a 13 year-old boy from accessing the service.
William Saponaro Jr. was arrested in 2012 after an encounter involving him, the 13-year-old boy and another man who knew Saponaro and had met the boy on the Grindr app. Saponaro, who owns a construction company in Cape May, sued Grindr for negligence and infliction of emotional distress, saying it allowed the boy to subscribe to it and present himself as being over the age of consent. A federal judge in Camden, in an opinion published on Friday, dismissed Saponaro’s lawsuit. The judge cited federal law that protects online service providers from being held liable for content that users post on their sites. “If social network hosts are faced with liability every time third-party communications on their networks result in harm, they are left with two extreme courses of action if they wish to ensure insulation from liability,” U.S. District Judge Jerome Simandle wrote. “Either over-police their networks, taking down communications that might ultimately be harmless; or, strip users of the ability to post communications altogether.”
In my first post on the case last summer, I reported that Saponaro claims that it was the other adult who actually met the boy on Grindr and that Saponaro believed that having a Grindr account meant one must be at least 18 years old. At that time Grindr had filed a motion to dismiss, citing the Communications Decency Act, which they claim immunizes companies from bad acts resulting from misinformation provided by other parties. Charges of sexual assault and child endangerment remain pending against Saponaro.