The girlfriend of a man killed by Kyle Rittenhouse in Kenosha, Wi., has filed a lawsuit against Facebook, Rittenhouse, and several militias and militia leaders for conspiracy, negligence, and affliction of emotional distress.
Hannah Gittings was the girlfriend of Anthony Huber, and she is joined by three other plaintiffs in the lawsuit, all of whom were present at the Black Lives Matter riot in Kenosha.
“The intentional, extreme, and outrageous conduct by Defendants caused severe emotional distress to all Plaintiffs,” the suit reads. “Falsely imprisoned through the use of assault rifles, forced to hear slurs hurled at them, Black people being told what to do by armed white men—this all caused Plaintiffs to feel understandable, extreme distress.”
Gittings and her attorneys also argue that Facebook failed to shut down the pages of the militia groups preparing to attend the riot and defend local businesses. The lawsuit includes screenshots from these Facebook groups showing comments that they claim incited violence and racism.
The lawsuit claims that Facebook received more than 400 complaints against the militia groups leading up to the riot but failed to take down the page.
“In other words, Facebook received more than 400 warnings that what did happen was going to occur,” the lawsuit says. “Perhaps the worst part of this organized deprivation of rights and dignity is that it all could have been prevented.”
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg admitted following the Kenosha riot that his company made an “operational mistake” in not removing the page of the militia group, the Kenosha Guard.
One of Kyle Rittenhouse’s attorneys called the lawsuit against his client “nonsense” but sees it as an opportunity to further Rittenhouse’s defamation suit against Facebook.
“As to Kyle Rittenhouse, this lawsuit is errant nonsense but may provide a golden opportunity for obtaining documents and sworn testimony from Facebook to bolster Kyle’s future defamation case against Facebook for falsely accusing him of mass murder,” Lin Wood told BuzzFeed News
Wood is referring to Facebook’s decision to designate the incident a mass shooting and remove Rittenhouse’s account and any content celebrating his actions.
“I view the lawsuit as a blessing in disguise,” Wood concluded.
It’s unlikely Gittings’ suit against Facebook will gain much ground. Federal law grants broad immunity to tech companies for the content posted on their site by third parties, and federal courts frequently dismiss such suits, according to NBC News.
Gittings’ boyfriend, Anthony Huber, was caught on video assaulting Kyle Rittenhouse with a skateboard as Rittenhouse was attempting to flag down the police. Rittenhouse shot and killed Huber in the subsequent confrontation.