For Second Time, Google Moves to Dismiss YouTube Content Creators’ Discrimination Case

Google LLC and YouTube LLC (together, YouTube) have rebutted allegations made in the plaintiffs’ third amended complaint, arguing that this version is no more viable than the previous one dismissed by the Northern District of California in June. Monday’s motion to dismiss alleges that the plaintiffs have bungled Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8’s plain statement requirement, have failed to state any claim for relief, and that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act shields YouTube from liability.

The case was filed in June 2020 by a number content creates of African American, Mexican, and Puerto Rican descent who asserted that YouTube systematically limited their abilities to earn money on the platform in violation of their constitutional and civil rights and trademark and competition laws. They urged that YouTube unfairly flagged their videos for the platform’s “Restricted Mode” not because of qualifying content, but because of the creators’ racial identities or viewpoints. In addition the plaintiffs claimed that YouTube wrongly “demonetized” their videos by preventing advertisements from running on them and removed videos or channels from search results.

The dismissal order issued this summer found the pleading deficient for want of facts plausibly suggesting that the plaintiffs were the target of intentional and purposeful racial discrimination, false advertising, or unconstitutional state action. Now, YouTube contends that the plaintiffs’ fourth pleading attempt “makes only token efforts to address the serious deficiencies that this Court identified in dismissing their prior complaint.”

The filing asserts that the operative complaint confuses rather than clarifies the plaintiffs’ claims with “over a hundred paragraphs of rhetoric and thousands of pages of largely irrelevant material.” Under Rule 8, the court is well within its right to toss the lawsuit, as other courts have done when faced with similarly conclusory rhetoric offered to support discrimination claims, the filing says.

The motion then explains why each of the plaintiffs’ seven state and federal law causes of action fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. For example, as to the plaintiffs’ intentional discrimination claim, YouTube references the court’s prior order allegedly granting leave to amend for the plaintiffs to provide more clarity about admissions made on part of the defendants regarding intentional racial bias.

The plaintiffs have done the opposite, YouTube argues, contending that the operative pleading merely reiterates the basic allegations found lacking in the previous version, “only with more words, new metaphors (‘digital ghettoes’), and less clarity.” It is now obvious that the plaintiffs have not alleged and cannot allege facts showing intentional discrimination, the motion says.

This time, YouTube requests that the court dismiss the case with prejudice. The plaintiffs’ opposition is due November 22.

The content creators are represented by Browne George Ross O’Brien Annaguey & Ellis and Google and YouTube by Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati.