A US federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit against Netflix brought by a grieving father who said the TV show “13 Reasons Why” was to blame for his 15-year-old daughter’s death by suicide in April 2017.
But John Herndon of Livermore, California, plans to appeal the decision.
“We disagree with the district court’s decision, and we do intend to appeal,” he said.
“We appreciate the district court’s consideration of the issue,” he added.
Herndon has accused Netflix of using sophisticated algorithms to “target highly vulnerable children,” including his daughter Bella, and alleges that kids were “directly manipulated” into watching dangerous content, court documents show.
However, Netflix disputes this, saying in court filings that restrictions on programming would result in self-censorship.
Herndon concluded that Bella had died “as a result of the tortious acts and omissions of Netflix that caused, or at least substantially contributed to, her suicide,” according to a class-action lawsuit filed in August.
But this week, a federal judge dismissed the lawsuit against Netflix, following a response filed by the streaming giant in December, saying she based her ruling on free-speech protections.
“This is a tragic case,” US District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers said on Tuesday.
“But ultimately, I don’t think that it survives.
The teen drama, “13 Reasons Why” which ran for four seasons between 2017 and 2020, was accused by critics and mental-health professionals of glorifying suicide.
“The show, before Netflix modified the content, gave a very detailed walkthrough of how this girl went about committing suicide,” Herndon said.
“The way that she did it was particularly abhorrent to me as a father and as a reasonable person.
In July 2019, Netflix edited the scene out.
“But it was too late — the damage had already been done,” Herndon said in an interview.
“All of the medical research that we’ve looked at so far has just pointed to the fact that this is not content that you would show to a young audience.
A 2019 study found that teen suicides increased in the months after the show first aired.
Bella Herndon was a 15-year-old girl who loved writing short stories, reading voraciously about Greek mythology, and spending time with her family and tight-knit group of friends.
“She was very intelligent, inquisitive, and very quick,” her father told Insider.
“She and I were like best buddies.
When Bella died by suicide in April 2017, he said it came “completely out of the blue” and was a “total surprise” to their family.
Bella had been seeing a therapist who had advised him that everything was looking “very well,” Herndon added.
It was only on the day of her funeral, he said, that he became aware that she had been watching Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why” — a controversial teen drama that revolved around the suicide of the main character Hannah Baker.
Bella’s school friends approached the late teenager’s father in the church and explained that she watched the show in her final days.
“I had no idea,” Herndon said.
“The kids were extremely open and honest about how they felt about it and how they believed that it affected Bella.
Yahoo News/Hauwa Abu
’13 Reasons Why’: Court dismisses suit against Netflix