- to be updated July 1
Jane Doe v. Facebook and Backpage (Houston)
On October 1, 2018, a Jane Doe, who was 15 years old when she was targeted by a trafficker on Facebook, and subsequently advertised on Backpage, filed suit against Facebook and Backpage, seeking $1 million in damages.
United States of America v. Ferrer (Arizona)
On April 6, 2018, a 93-count criminal indictment was unsealed against Jim Larkin, Michael Lacey and 5 other key Backpage executives. Less than a week later, Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer entered into a plea agreement agreeing to cooperate with prosecutors in the criminal case against Lacey and Larkin (and assist federal authorities in the immediate shutdown of Backpage.com.)
Doe v. Backpage, et al. (Houston)
In January of 2018, in Houston, a lawsuit was filed by a survivor against Backpage, 15 hotel chains, and 5 truck stops. Read more about the case here.
Kocher v. Backpage, Hilton Holdings Inc., et al. (Portland)
In December of 2017, in Portland, a complaint in Portland was filed against Backpage and Hilton Hotels by the Estate of Ashley Benson, a woman who was trafficked and subsequently murdered by a Backpage buyer.
J.S. v. Village Voice Media Holdings, Backpage, et al. (Seattle)
On May 24, 2017, JS filed a response in opposition to Backpage, which included previously sealed depositions of certain Backpage executives, including CEO Carl Ferrer and a two-part deposition of Backpage’s General Counsel Liz McDougall.
Yvonne Ambrose v. Backpage (Chicago)
On May 17, 2017, Yvonne Ambrose, the mother of a 16-year old child who was killed at the hands of a Backpage buyer, filed a wrongful death action against Backpage. On March 23, 2018, Backpage filed a Motion to Dismiss.
Backpage v. Attorney General Joshua P. Hawley (Missouri)
On April 3, 2017, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley announced the beginnings of an investigation into Backpage, led by a new unit in his office tasked with prosecuting human traffickers.
On July 11, 2017, Backpage filed a complaint against Hawley for “unreasonable search and seizure,” citing the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments.
On May 29, 2019, Judge Patricia Cohen of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri denied the Missouri Attorney General’s Office request to impose sanctions against Backpage.com’s former counsel, Davis Wright Tremaine (DWT) and Backpage.com LLC. Cohen supported this decision by stating “the record does not support a conclusion that the April 2018 guilty pleas show that DWT knew or should have known that sworn statements made by Backpage personnel in and prior to 2017 were false.”
Florida Abolitionist v. Backpage (Orlando)
In February of 2017, Florida Abolitionist, an Orlando-based anti-trafficking organization and Legal Momentum, represented by Boies Schiller, filed a complaint against Backpage.
XXXXXXXX v. Village Voice Media Holdings, Backpage, et al. (Dallas)
On January 25, 2017, in Dallas, Plaintiff XXXXXXXX, who was approximately 15 years old when she was sex trafficked on Backpage, filed a complaint (represented by Marc C. Lenahan).
Doe v. Village Voice Media Holdings, Backpage, et al. (San Diego)
On January 25, 2017, in San Diego, 15-year Jane Doe filed a complaint (by and through her mother, S.B.) against Backpage.
R.O., K.M. v. Village Voice Media Holdings, Backpage, et al. (Seattle)
On January 25, 2017, in Seattle, Plaintiffs R.O. and K.M., minor girls who were sold on Backpage, filed a complaint (by and through their mothers, against Backpage.
K.R. v. Backpage (Alabama)
On January 25, 2017, a complaint was filed by a sex trafficking survivor against Backpage and Choice Hotels. Greg Zarzaur and his team of lawyers won a Motion to Remand (movement back to state court), defeating Backpage claims that the case should be transferred to federal court.
Doe v. Backpage (Boston)
In January of 2017, the US Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal of Jane Does 1-3 in Doe v. Backpage in Boston. However, on June 12, 2017, John Montgomery and his team at Ropes and Gray filed a new lawsuit against Backpage on behalf of Jane Does 1-3 alleging that Backpage developed the content on its site and could not be shielded by Section 230. On March 29, 2018, Judge Leo T. Sorokin dismissed the cases of Jane Doe 1 and 2, allowing only Jane Doe 3 to move to the next stage, a decision that flummoxed most who read it. Ropes and Gray moved to amend its complaint, immediately after passage of FOSTA-SESTA.
The People v. Ferrer, et al. (Sacramento & Dallas)
In September of 2016, California attorney general Kamala Harris filed criminal charges against Backpage executives Carl Ferrer, Michael Lacey, and James Larkin for pimping.
On October 6, 2016, Carl Ferrer was arrested in Houston on the California warrant. Partaking in a joint investigation, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton executed a search warrant on the Backpage headquarters in Dallas. Two months later, the case was dismissed by Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Michael G. Bowman. In December of 2016, the California AG refiled a new action against Ferrer, Lacey and Larkin, alleging criminal charges for pimping and laundering of earnings. In August of 2017, Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Lawrence Brown dismissed the pimping charges under Section 230 but allowed the money laundering charges to proceed. On April 12, 2018, Ferrer plead guilty to multiple charges related to human trafficking and money laundering. His plea deal sentenced him to a maximum of five years in prison and required the forfeit of all corporate Backpage assets. The next day Michael Lacey walked free after posting a one-million-dollar bond.
Dart v. Backpage (Chicago)
In June of 2015, Sheriff Thomas J. Dart of Cook County wrote letters to Visa and Mastercard requesting that they cease and desist any credit card charges from Backpage. In turn, on July 21, 2015, Backpage filed a complaint against Sheriff Dart, assigned to U.S. District Court Judge John J. Tharp Jr. In November of 2015, the case was heard in front of the 7th Circuit Court. Read Judge Ricard A. Posner. In late April of 2018, Sheriff Dart filed a Motion to Dismiss the Action and to Dissolve the Injunction, as well as a Motion for Sanctions against Backpage and its attorneys.
Doe v. Salesforce (San Francisco)
On March 25, 2019, a group of 50 Jane Does filed a lawsuit against Salesforce, a multi-billion-dollar software company based in San Francisco, on the basis that it “designed and implemented a heavily customized enterprise database tailored for Backpage’s operations, both locally and internationally”, essentially serving as a building block for Backpage to facilitate its sex-trafficking with.
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