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Thursday, April 03, 2014

Ind. Decisions - Court of Appeals issues 1 today (and 1 NFP)

For publication opinions today (1):

In Jeffrey M. Miller and Cynthia S. Miller v. Federal Express Corporation and 500 Festival, Inc., a 20-page opinion, Judge Mathias writes:

Jeffrey M. Miller and Cynthia S. Miller (“the Millers”) appeal the Marion Superior Court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Federal Express Corporation (“FedEx”) and 500 Festival, Inc. (“500 Festival”) on the Millers’ claim of defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The Millers appeal, claiming: (1) that the Defendants failed to preserve evidence, and (2) that the Defendants are not immune from suit under the federal Communications Decency Act. * * *

On March 18, 2010, the Indianapolis Business Journal (“IBJ”) published an article on its website regarding the allegations and controversy surrounding the construction of the culinary school. Several comments regarding this article were posted to the IBJ website. The Millers allege that several of these comments were defamatory. * * *

I. Preservation of Evidence. The Millers first claim that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment because both of the Defendants failed to preserve evidence for discovery. Specifically, the Millers refer to certain computer records or files that the Defendants had in their possession. * * *

However, we need not pursue the discovery issues concerning the contents of the hard drive on Wilson’s computer, and we do not think that 500 Festival’s failure to preserve the contents of this computer required the trial court to deny summary judgment in favor of 500 Festival. Both of these issues are mooted by the fact that both FedEx and 500 Festival are immune from the claims brought by the Millers.

II. Immunity Under The Communications Decency Act

The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of 500 Festival and FedEx based on its conclusion that these defendants were protected from liability by operation of the federal Communications Decency Act (“CDA”). On appeal, the Millers claim that the trial court’s conclusion was erroneous. * * *

Congress made a policy choice not to deter harmful online speech through the separate route of imposing tort liability on companies that serve as intermediaries for other parties’ potentially injurious messages. * * *

Thus, the question before us is whether 500 Festival and FedEx qualify as providers of an “interactive computer service” for purposes of Section 230(c)(1). The Millers argue that neither 500 Festival nor FedEx provided an interactive computer service, but are instead employers providing computer services to their employees via third-party ISPs. * * *

Here, the designated evidence clearly establishes that both 500 Festival and FedEx provide or enable computer access for multiple users on their respective computer networks to access the Internet by means of the servers on each network. We conclude that this is all that is required under Section 230(c)(1) to be considered a provider of an interactive computer service. * * *

[T]he Millers’ actual complaint seeks to hold 500 Festival and FedEx liable as publishers of the statements. Thus, their claims are barred by Section 230(c) of the CDA. * * *

Conclusion. Although there may have remained a genuine issue of material fact concerning spoliation of evidence under state law, the trial court properly granted summary judgment in favor of 500 Festival and FedEx, finding each to be sued in their capacity as a publisher of the information at issue and concluding that, as such, these defendants were immune from the Millers’ claims under Section 230(c) of the federal Communications Decency Act because these defendants are providers of an interactive computer service. Affirmed.

NFP civil opinions today (1):

In the Matter of the Civil Commitment of T.K. v. Department of Veterans Affairs, Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center (NFP)

NFP criminal opinions today (0):

Posted by Marcia Oddi on April 3, 2014 10:55 AM
Posted to Ind. App.Ct. Decisions