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Nevada Mom Sues Social Media Giant after daughter bought drugs on platform; says it is helping Drug Dealers

Nevada Mom Sues Social Media Giant after daughter bought drugs on platform; says it is helping Drug Dealers

Las Vegas, NV: According to records acquired by the 8 News Now Investigators, a mother sued Snapchat on Wednesday, claiming the social media app was a factor in her daughter’s fentanyl overdose death, which occurred when she was 20 years old.

The lawsuit stated that 20-year-old Avianna “Avi” Cavanaugh passed away in March 2021 as a result of fentanyl poisoning. When Cavanaugh passed away, she had fentanyl and other narcotics in her system, according to the authorities.

The illicit synthetic painkiller fentanyl is being mixed with other street narcotics by drug gangs. It is 50-to 100 times more strong than morphine. According to the federal government’s warning and the complaint, dealers frequently use social media sites to promote their products.

With the help of Eglet Adams attorneys Robert Eglet, Robert Adams, Artmenus Ham, Erica Entsminger, and Cassandra Cummings, Diane Howard—the special administrator of Cavanaugh’s estate—and Theresa Keyes—Cavanaugh’s mother—filed a complaint in Clark County District Court.

Snapchat was “expressly designed and operated… as a tool to facilitate nefarious and illicit activity,” according to the lawsuit, which targets users between the ages of 15 and 29, according to documentation.

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There are claims in the lawsuit that Snapchat’s design flaws and lack of warnings played a significant role in Avi’s death.

Cavanaugh requested “foil” in a text message from an unknown sender identified only as “Chris Gucci,” which the Las Vegas Metro Police Department discovered during their investigation. “Chris Gucci” was actually Christopher Gonzalez, as the police eventually determined. According to the lawsuit, the police also discovered chats from a narcotics dealer who used Snapchat. Cavanaugh thought she was purchasing Xanax or Oxycodone, but the pills were actually 100% fentanyl, according to the messages.

On allegations of selling a dangerous narcotic and voluntary manslaughter, a judge handed down a 2-to-5-year prison term to Gonzalez in 2022. Gonzalez was indicted on counts including second-degree murder by a grand jury in Clark County.

The capabilities of Snapchat made it impossible for Cavanaugh’s mother to see her communications starting when her daughter started using the app when she was a teenager, according to the records. According to the lawsuit, Cavanaugh and Gonzalez only knew each other through their Snapchat connection.

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Court filings state that Keyes, Howard, and their lawyers claim that “Snapchat has positioned itself as the social media platform of choice for drug dealers, to the detriment of its young users” and that Snapchat has failed to adequately safeguard its users’ children.

According to the lawsuit, Snapchat “[emboldens] drug dealers to use Snapchat for their illicit gains” due to its design, and the social media platform did not take any “reasonable action” in response to the fentanyl epidemic, which resulted to Cavanaugh’s death.

Along with that, the lawsuit asserts that Snapchat’s geolocation and stories features enable drug dealers “to broadcast that they have drugs available for sale at a specific location, knowing that these advertisements will disappear after they have completed their drug sales.”

Wrongful death, product liability, careless marketing and distribution, and neglect are among the grounds of action cited in the claim.

The CEO of Snap, Inc. reportedly told Congress that just one percent of Snapchat’s twenty million adolescent users really use the app, despite the fact that Snapchat does have security safeguards.

Democratic Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford had already filed a lawsuit against Snapchat, Meta, and TikTok in January, citing the addictive nature of the platforms. Within the past week, his office has moved to disable the feature that encrypts messages automatically for adolescents.

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