Judge rules in Netflix’s favor over ’13 Reasons Why’ suicide suit

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The dad and mom of a teenage woman who took her personal life after watching the Netflix collection “13 Reasons Why” received’t see their day in court docket, a federal decide has dominated.

Last summer season, the daddy, John Herndon, filed a class-action lawsuit in opposition to the streaming company to assert that his daughter Bella has “died as a result of the tortious acts and omissions of Netflix that caused, or at least substantially contributed to” her April 2017 suicide, in response to court docket paperwork.

But on Tuesday, US District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers dominated in favor of Netflix, with the assist of the First Amendment proper to freedom of speech.

Herndon first spoke out in 2017 alongside the grieving household of Priscilla Chui. Both Bella and Priscilla had been 15 once they died, after watching the primary season of “13 Reasons Why.”

John Herndon and daughter Bella pose for a photograph collectively not lengthy earlier than her dying in 2017.
Family Handout

The bereaved father pleaded with Netflix on the time: “Don’t go through with the renewal for the second season of ‘13 Reasons Why.’ Stop this. This is wrong. You’re making money off the misery of others.”

Priscilla Chiu’s household believes “13 Reasons Why” precipitated their daughter’s suicide in 2017.
Family Handout

The present, based mostly on a bestselling e book by the identical title, kicks off beneath the premise that its just lately deceased foremost character, 17-year-old Hannah, has left behind 13 tapes as clues to disclose why she killed herself, and who she blames for precipitating her dying.

Its first season finale ends with an excruciating, three-minute-long suicide montage.

The polarizing teen drama, which ended after 4 seasons in 2020, was just lately on the heart of a nationwide dialog about teenage melancholy and suicide, drawing the ire of fogeys regardless of excessive scores amongst its younger viewers. “13 Reasons Why” invited criticism from even essentially the most progressive audiences, together with some in Hollywood who referred to as it “romanticizing suicide.” Meanwhile, faculty administrations rushed to warn dad and mom concerning the viral collection that appeared to “go against the recommendations of mental health professionals and suicide prevention models,” in response to one elite NYC faculty.

“13 Reasons Why” on Netflix, which aired for 4 seasons between 2017 and 2020, was based mostly on the eponymous bestselling e book by Jay Asher, revealed in 2007.
Netflix

Netflix as soon as maintained that the present had “opened up a dialogue … around the difficult topics depicted in the show.” And maybe it did, however for all of the mistaken causes: A examine has since proven that the disturbing collection certainly left a devastating wake, as suicide deaths amongst 10- to 19-year-olds in the US rose by 13% in the three months following the discharge of “13 Reasons Why” in March 2017.

In their December 2021 movement to dismiss Herndon’s case, Netflix’s protection wrote: “Creators obligated to shield certain viewers from expressive works depicting suicide would inevitably censor themselves to avoid the threat of liability.”

Herndon’s lawyer Ryan Hamilton clarified that his shopper’s suit takes goal not with the present’s content material, however the algorithms that market it.

“What this case is about is the private targeting of vulnerable children and consequences that were not only foreseeable and were foreseen but that Netflix was warned about,” he stated.

Unconvinced, Judge Rogers concluded: “I just don’t think the lawsuit survives.”

A year after its first season ended, Netflix agreed to connect a half-hour lengthy suicide warning video to the collection, however after an extra outcry by dad and mom, academics, medical doctors and therapists, they finally determined to take “the advice of medical experts” and revise the grisly first season finale in July 2019.

“No one scene is more important than the life of the show and its message that we must take better care of each other,” Netflix stated. “We believe this edit will help the show do the most good for the most people while mitigating any risk for especially vulnerable young viewers.”

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