If you or a family member were harmed by a social media platform, you want justice. And, if law enforcement cannot help, you will want to, at least, get civil justice. Unfortunately, getting civil justice from social media platform harms is not straightforward in Texas.
Texas products liability law
Products liability law holds manufacturers and sellers liable for their defective products. Under Texas law though (Chapter 82 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code), manufacturers indemnify innocent product sellers in product liability lawsuits. Though, if the manufacturer is insolvent or outside of the state’s jurisdiction, then a seller could be liable for product defects.
Similarly, product liability here is a strict liability offense. Essentially, this means that harmed customers do not have to prove negligence. If the product is defective, and that defect caused the harm, the manufacturer is liable.
Types of product liability
Products are defective in one of three ways. First, there was a defect in the design that makes it unreasonably dangerous. For example, if a car spontaneously catches fire, this could be a design defect.
Second, a product could have a defect in its manufacturing. This means that some defect occurred in the manufacturing of the product, like a toy that contains lead.
Finally, there is defective marketing. This can be in the product’s labeling, warnings and instructions, which mislead customers or that failed to inform customers of risks associated with the product. The most common example is drugs that do not disclose side effects.
Can I use products liability to sue social media in Texas?
Maybe. Under state law (Section 82.001), a product is any tangible personal property distributed in commerce and includes an article of food or clothing. These are the only products that qualify for products liability lawsuits. However, by their very nature, social medial platforms are not tangible.
Though, some courts have nonetheless found that they should be treated as products. For example, a California court found that social media platforms were tangible as they were the manifestation of an idea that could be sold, transferred or licensed. Though, this is not settled law in Texas.