Facebook lawsuit assigned to District Judge Murphy

Steve Korris Jun. 9, 2011, 10:41am

EAST ST. LOUIS – Class action lawyer Stephen Tillery of St. Louis rises to guard the privacy of adolescent Facebook friends whose parents didn't guard it.

Aaron Zigler of Tillery's firm sued Facebook on behalf of two minors in federal court on June 1, claiming it makes money on advertising that shows names and faces of children.

"Defendants used and continues to use plaintiffs' names and photographs for the purpose of marketing, advertising, selling and soliciting the purchase of goods and services knowing that plaintiffs, as minors, lack the capacity to consent to such use," Zigler wrote.

He proposed to certify Illinois residents Melissa Dawes and Jennifer DeYong, "next friends" of the minors, to lead a national class action.

He wrote that hundreds of thousands of minors belong to the class.

In the alternative, he proposed a class action in Illinois, California, Ohio, Indiana and Nevada.

Zigler estimated that more than 14 million U.S. residents under age 18 use Facebook.

"One way in which Facebook works to increase its user base and response rate and thus its advertising revenues is by using the names and likenesses of its users to advertise its services and other products and services which it is paid to promote," he wrote.

Zigler wrote that plaintiffs suffered irreparable harm and damages that include "lessening the value of plaintiffs' personal information, identity and likeness."

He discounted the value of those items, however, arguing for class action due to "the relatively small size of the claims of many individual members of the class."

Steven Katz of Tillery's firm worked with Zigler on the complaint.

By random draw, the district court clerk assigned the case to District Judge Patrick Murphy.

His wife, Patricia Murphy of Energy, teams with Tillery in a federal suit alleging weed killer atrazine contaminates water supplies.

Tillery and Patricia Murphy jointly appeared for plaintiffs in the most recent hearing before District Judge Phil Gilbert in that case, on May 12.

As of June 9, the docket on the Facebook case showed nothing but the complaint.

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