SOMERSWORTH — The owner of local cafe Teatotaller will get his day in New Hampshire Supreme Court against Facebook.

Teatotaller owner Emmett Soldati and the tech giant are slated for oral arguments on Tuesday, March 10, the court announced Friday.

Soldati is suing Facebook as part of a breach of contract suit. His suit argues Facebook is distorting the federal protections afforded by the Communications Decency Act of 1996 to escape accountability for deleting the @Teatotaller Instagram page, a paid advertising account, without explanation or refund in June 2018.

“It’s terrifying that they would argue (full immunity) and any court would uphold that,” Soldati said in a phone interview Monday. “I don’t know why the CDA should supersede contract law, federal contract law and the basis for contract law.”

Each side will get 15 minutes to argue its case before Supreme Court justices on March 10.

Soldati is representing himself. 

Facebook is being represented by Vermont attorney Stephen Soule and San Francisco attorneys Matan Shacham and Victor Chiu. Court records indicate Shacham will present Facebook’s oral arguments, doing so pro hac vice because he isn’t a member of the New Hampshire Bar. 

Facebook’s attorneys have argued Soldati’s claims are “threadbare” and “fruitless” in court briefs. They have argued the CDA and Instagram’s terms of service bar Soldati from seeking direct damages over the way in which Teatotaller’s account was deleted.

Soldati is claiming Facebook’s deletion of Teatotaller’s Instagram account caused direct damages to his business, which heavily relied on Instagram advertising and engagement.

It took more than a year for Teatotaller’s new Instagram account, which has the same handle, to achieve the more than 2,000 followers the original account had when it was deleted, according to Soldati.

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The case originated as a small claims case in Dover District Court, in accordance with Instagram’s terms of service. Soldati is appealing his defeat in that case because he believes district court erred when it broadly applied the CDA — which protects companies from litigation over content and removal, but not from breaches of contract — and an abridged version of Instagram’s terms of use.



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