Facebook Faces Lawsuit for Murder Pictures posted on the Site

facebook_logoHorrible things happen when people don’t think about the consequences of their actions – a point once again driven home when crime scene photos were posted on Facebook by a paramedic. The parents of the victim, Caroline Wimmer, age 26, had found the pictures and were simply appalled by the callousness of the paramedic who posted it, one Mark Musarella, the first person on the scene to respond to the couple’s emergency call. The whole fiasco turned into a legal battle when the parents demanded that all copies of the picture be removed from the site, courtesy of Facebook itself.

The Story

The murder actually took place back in 2009. Caroline Wimmer was found dead in her apartment in Staten Island. She was apparently beaten and strangled and the culprit was one Calvin Lawson. Lawson is currently serving 25 years to life. Lawson was not the only one who wronged Caroline, though. Mark Musarella, an emergency medical technician, took a picture of Caroline’s body and proceeded to post it on Facebook. When faced with his sin against Caroline and her family, Musarella plead guilty to disorderly conduct. He was stripped of his license then sentenced to 200 hours of community service. However, the damage has been done, and until all those photos disappear completely, Caroline’s family cannot move on. “It’s very tough to heal when you know there are sick people out in the world who look at their dead daughter’s image”, says Batra.

Where does Facebook come in?

The family has decided to ask Facebook to remove the offensive photos by filing a lawsuit. They are trying to force the company into deleting the image from all their servers and to pinpoint those who have downloaded the photograph in order to prevent further spreading of the said photo. They’re also trying to get a mandate forcing Facebook to cooperate with the victims’ families now and in the future.

However, Facebook has said that “the case is without merit, we will fight it vigorously.” Indeed, as annoying as Facebook can be sometimes, they might just be right on this one. The social networking company, after all, is protected by the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which basically says that Facebook cannot be treated as the publisher of the said photo.

Facebook isn’t the only company that the family’s suing, however, but also the Richmond University Medical Center, which is Musarella’s former employer and also Greenleaf Arms, owner of Caroline’s apartment building, because they had – according to the family – failed to make their building safe and secure.

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