SAN DIEGO (June 6, 2023) Frederick Schenk, a longtime CaseyGerry partner and head of the firm’s mass torts practice, was recently appointed by Judge Carolyn Kuhl of the Los Angeles Superior Court to serve on the plaintiffs steering committee in the social media judicial council coordination proceedings (JCCP) lawsuit against some of the world’s biggest Social media companies, including Facebook and Instagram, YouTube, SnapChat, TikTok, and others.
The steering committee is tasked with overseeing the plaintiff’s prosecution of civil cases arising from the social media addiction litigation filed in the Superior Courts of the State of California. Schenk will be working closely with a team of law firms to hold social media companies accountable for allegedly encouraging social media addiction in young users – despite knowing the negative impact such use has on the physical and mental health of those individuals and their families.
According to David S. Casey Jr., managing partner of CaseyGerry, Schenk’s appointment is especially timely, as the U.S Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, long a proponent of mental health awareness, recently issued a warning that social media use is a main contributor to depression, anxiety and other problems in the nation’s teenagers. And new legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate is focused on prohibiting children under 13 from using social media and requiring those under 18 to obtain permission from a parent or guardian to set up an account.
“The majority of today’s teens and young adults use social media and the evidence is mounting that this practice is often detrimental to mental health, with multiple studies revealing the links between social media use and depression and anxiety,” Casey Jr. said. “We are proud that Fred will play such an important role – and represent our firm – in addressing this vital issue.”
The CaseyGerry mass torts practice began investigating social media addiction in children late last year, after a report was published by a former employee of META (Facebook) alleging that social media companies were aware of addictive behaviors in their younger audience, and purposefully designed algorithms to encourage more use. The report included research findings implying social media addiction negatively impacted the mental well-being of children resulting in side effects such as depression, suicidal thoughts and suicide, antisocial behavior, body dysmorphia and anxiety.
This JCCP is a second attempt at holding tech companies accountable for the intentional design of social media platforms to increase use and addictive behavior. Last year, California State Senator, Nancy Skinner proposed a bill, which would allow the attorney general and district attorneys to file civil lawsuits against these companies. The bill was heavily lobbied by the tech industry and ultimately did not pass. This year, Skinner is re-introducing a modified version of the bill, SB 287, which will now also allow for individuals to file lawsuits against social media companies within four years of the alleged harm caused. Schenk will be working to help on the passage of the updated bill.
An experienced trial attorney, Schenk has earned multiple professional accolades over the years and has decades of experience in serious personal injury, products liability and mass tort litigation. Active in the community, he serves the board of directors of the 22nd District Agricultural Association (San Diego County Fair Board), was on the board of visitors of the USD School of Law and is past president of the San Diego Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA).