On October 30, a Georgia Court of Appeals affirmed an order granting a motion to dismiss in the lawsuit against the instant messaging app for breach of duty of care in designing the app’s speed filter.
Maynard et al. v. Snapchat, Inc.
The plaintiffs sued Snapchat, Inc., and the other driver involved in the accident to recover damages for injuries resulting from a car accident. Plaintiff alleged that said injuries resulted from the other driver’s use of a feature on the Snapchat application on her phone. The district court granted Snapchat motion to dismiss. In their appeal, the plaintiffs contend that their complaint is sufficient; Snapchat violated its duty of care by poorly designing its application.
What is a Motion to Dismiss?
A motion to dismiss is a motion filed by a party when such party believes that the complaint is not valid. The grounds on which a party can file a motion to dismiss include:
- Insufficient Service of Process – complaint was not served properly
- Expired Statute of Limitations
- Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction or the authority of the court to hear a particular type of case.
- Lack of Personal Jurisdiction
- Improper Venue
- Failure to State a Claim for Which Relief can be Granted
A motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim should not be sustained unless:
- The complaint shows that the claimant would not be entitled to relief; and
- The party filing the motion shows that the claimant could not possibly introduce sufficient facts related to the complaint to warrant granting relief.
In order to recover damages on the allegations of negligence a plaintiff must show:
- The existence of a duty by the defendant. A “legal duty” is an obligation to conform to a standard of conduct under law. This conforming to the established standard must be for the protection of others. However, the innocence of the plaintiff does not create a legal duty for the defendant.
- A breach of that duty.
- Causation of the injuries and damages resulting from the breach.
The decision affirms the dismissal indicating that the plaintiffs failed to show the existence of a duty on the part of Snapchat. It goes further when explaining this posture by indicating that under Georgia law, there is no general duty to “all the world” or to control the conduct of third persons (in this case, the other driver and co-defendant). A general duty of this nature only exists when there is a special relationship between the actor and another creating a duty to control the third party’s conduct for the benefit of others, or a special relationship between defendant and plaintiff giving plaintiff a right to protection. The court indicated that no special relationship existed in this case between Snapchat and the other driver, or plaintiffs.