International Terrorism and Wrongful Death Claims


Wrongful death cases typically involve negligent acts, such as drunk driving or medical malpractice. But wrongful death and catastrophic injury may also be the product of intentional criminal activity. In some scenarios there may be both criminal wrongdoing and negligence involved.

Children Sue California Social Media Giants Over Father’s Death in Barcelona Attack

Since the horrific attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, international terrorism has been on the rise, both here and abroad. Congress enacted new laws post-September 11 to permit victims of attacks to seek civil damages against “persons, entities, and foreign countries” that provide “material support” to terrorist organizations. Such support extends far beyond the actual terrorist group to potentially include well-known, legitimate businesses whose negligence may have contributed to such attacks.

Recently, a number of wrongful death lawsuits were filed in California against three of the state’s best-known tech companies – Twitter, Google, and Facebook. In one such lawsuit, filed on October 4, the plaintiffs are the children of a San Francisco man who was killed during an August 17 terrorist attack in Barcelona, Spain. This attack killed more than dozen people in total.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a U.S.-designated terrorist organization, has been credited with planning and carrying out the Barcelona attack. Specifically, Spain was targeted due to its support of anti-ISIS efforts led by the United States. According to the plaintiff’s lawsuit, ISIS relies heavily on social media–notably Twitter, Facebook, and Google’s YouTube service–to recruit terrorists to its organization and spread its overall message.

The plaintiffs claim that the defendants “have for years knowingly provided its Services to ISIS, its members, organizations owned or controlled by ISIS, and organizations and individuals that provide financing and material support to ISIS.” Furthermore, the lawsuit alleges that the defendants “routinely profit from ISIS” in the form of advertising revenue collected on “ISIS postings.” Such ads are “specifically targeted” towards readers interested in ISIS propaganda and not merely the result of random chance.

In short, the lawsuit accuses Facebook, Twitter, and Google of providing “material support” to ISIS in violation of federal law. “But for” this assistance, the lawsuit alleges, the Barcelona attack that killed the plaintiffs’ father “would have been substantially more difficult to implement.” On the basis of this “unreasonable and outrageous” conduct, the plaintiffs allege the defendants are liable for the “wrongful death” of their father under California law. The plaintiffs also seek damages for “negligent infliction of emotional distress,” in addition to violation of numerous federal anti-terrorism laws.

Get Advice From a California Wrongful Death Attorney

The Barcelona wrongful death lawsuit is still in its early stages, so it is impossible to predict the ultimate outcome. This does illustrate how the growth of international terrorism has affected the civil legal system. As more people are tragically killed in these type of attacks, American companies will have to take stock of their own complicity and possible legal liability.

If you have lost a loved one due to any kind of criminal act, it is important to seek advice from an experienced Pasadena personal injury lawyer. Contact Strassburg, Gilmore, & Wei, Attorneys at Law, if you have a catastrophic injury or wrongful death claim and need to speak with someone right away.

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