Craigslist Successfully Defends Against Chicago Lawsuit

Court finds Craigslist entitled to common carrier protection

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A 2006 lawsuit by the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights against Craigslist over real estate postings containing discriminatory language failed to establish the classifieds site’s liability.

Relief for Craigslist came from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, which agreed that the site should not be liable for posts made by certain users who included language contrary to federal fair housing laws.

Classified Intelligence cited the court ruling that sided with Craigslist and its contention that common carrier laws applied in the case:


"Using the remarkably candid postings on Craigslist, the Lawyers’ Committee can identify many targets to investigate. It can dispatch testers and collect damages from any landlord or owner who engages in discrimination. …. It can assemble a list of names to send to the Attorney General for prosecution. But … it cannot sue the messenger just because the message reveals a third-party’s plan to engage in unlawful discrimination."


When the lawsuit had been dismissed by the US District Court in Chicago in November 2006, Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster wrote the plaintiffs sued the site over "100 allegedly discriminatory ads posted by our Chicago users in a 6 month period, out of 200,000 housing ads submitted to chicago.craigslist.org in that timeframe."

"Discriminatory postings are exceedingly uncommon, and those few that do reach the site are typically removed quickly by our users through the flagging system that accompanies each ad ," Buckmaster said in 2006.

Craigslist Successfully Defends Against Chicago Lawsuit
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