Jurisdiction prioritized over case's merits

9th Circuit dismisses appeals in Apple, Google, Meta casino app liability case

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The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals has dismissed both the appeal and cross-appeal regarding the liability of Apple, Google, and Meta in cases alleging they promoted illegal gambling by processing payments for online casinos.

The court ruled it did not have jurisdiction, as the trial court's decision was an abstract legal opinion rather than a final order on the claims, according to Reuters.

Judges Richard Paez, Jennifer Sung, and US District Judge Sidney Fitzwater stated that while the trial judge, Edward Davila, had addressed the scope of Section 230 immunity under the Communications Decency Act, he did not apply these conclusions to any of the 125 specific claims. This lack of specificity rendered the decision non-appealable.

Davila had previously ruled that Section 230 protects the tech giants from some claims but does not shield them from allegations of violating state gambling laws by brokering transactions for virtual casino chips. The tech companies argued that the 9th Circuit should rule on the merits of their appeal to avoid wasted effort, but the court prioritized jurisdictional consistency.

Lawyer Jay Edelson, representing the plaintiffs, had urged the appeals court not to grant interlocutory review, arguing the trial judge’s ruling was not novel or unsettled. The case now returns to Davila, who must address the specific causes of action in detail.

Apple, Google, and Meta did not respond to requests for comment. Their lawyers argued that a win on appeal would end the case, but the 9th Circuit remained focused on proper jurisdictional procedure. The case’s outcome could impact the interpretation of Section 230 immunity and its application to tech companies involved in online gambling activities.

Earlier this month, the 9th Circuit affirmed Davila's dismissal of a class action against app developer Supercell, ruling the plaintiffs failed to show concrete injury despite allegations of violating California gambling laws. The ongoing litigation will resume in Davila's court, with significant legal and financial implications at stake.

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