Lawsuit against Netflix over ‘13 Reasons Why’ Suicide Scene Dismissed

A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed a case against Netflix. The case had been filed by the family of one teenager who allegedly died of suicide after watching the show “13 reasons why”. The judge cited protection of free speech as a basis for her ruling.

Pointing to a law that permits the dismissal of cases infringing protected speech, U.S. District Judge Yvonne said that it is not possible to sue Netflix for recommending a show to viewers. “This case was dead on arrival”, said Judge Rodgers Gonzales.

The lawsuit that was filed in August by a family lawyer, John Herndon, claimed that there was no proper warning to viewers against aggressive content in 13 Reasons Why. The movie comprises of events that result in the death of a teenager by suicide.

In its defense, Netflix warned the court that restricting content on its platform would amount to censorship of creative work. A lawyer representing Netflix also pointed out several movies depicting suicidal content that have never been banned.

“If creators are forced to censor some content for depicting suicide, it would greatly limit their creativity and prevent them from producing content as they wish”

During the hearing of the case, Ryan Hamilton, the lawyer representing the plaintiff, downplayed the narrative that the case was all about the content of the show. He instead based his argument on an algorithm used by Netflix terming it as dangerous and immoral.

Responding to the plaintiff’s argument that the case purely falls under the anti-SLAPP statute of the state, the presiding judge said that it was not possible to separate the content of the show from the grounds that the plaintiff didn’t want it disseminated.

Netflix has since removed parts depicting suicide in the movie following strong arguments presented by the wrongful death lawyer representing the family.

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