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Father Of Teenager Who Died By Suicide Says He Plans To Appeal Lawsuit Against 13 Reasons Why

Katherine Langford and Dylan Minnette as Hannah Baker and Clay Jensen in 13 Reasons Why.
(Image credit: Netflix)

Controversial Netflix series 13 Reasons Why ran for four seasons on the streamer. Based on the book of the same name, the show centered on 13 tapes left by high school student Hannah Baker, who committed suicide. The show has had detractors due to the nature of the series and its inclusion of some graphic scenes. Now, one father is appealing a dismissed lawsuit against the Netflix show after his daughter died by suicide.

Recently, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit against Netflix, filed by John Herndon, who blames 13 Reasons Why for his daughter’s death.  After the decision Herndon told  Insider he plans to appeal, as he believes the series is the reason why his daughter, Bella, died by suicide in 2017 “completely out of the blue.” He said:  

We disagree with the district court's decision, and we do intend to appeal. We appreciate the district court's consideration of the issue.

In the original lawsuit that John Herndon filed as a class action in August, he alleged that his daughter and “those similarly situated to her were tortiously harmed.” Following his daughter’s death, the original suit notes he found out from her friends that Bella was watching the newly released Netflix show in her final days. The original lawsuit also claims "Netflix failed to adequately warn children and their families of the health risks of viewing its Show."

In December, Netflix pursued a dismissal of the lawsuit, bringing up that restrictions on programming would then lead to self-censorship. Earlier in January, a judge dismissed the suit, noting at the time her ruling was based on "free speech protections." In a statement (also via THR) US District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers said:

This is a tragic case. But ultimately, I don’t think that it survives.

13 Reasons Why has been a controversial series since the show first premiered on Netflix in 2017. Following controversy, the series even edited out Hannah Baker’s suicide scene in the final episode of Season 1. The drama has been known to include triggering storylines has even been accused of contributing to teen suicide risk

In 2019, 13 Reasons Why executive producer Brian Yorkey and series adviser, psychiatrist Rebecca Hedrick refuted studies that found that suicides had increased since the show’s premiere. The two had discussed efforts they made to work with experts to keep the series authentic and noted the positive impact the show has had in improving teens’ communication with their parents.

The following seasons included more graphic storylines, a death from AIDS and more. The Netflix series came to an end in 2020 after four seasons, but the controversies have lingered. We'll keep you updated if John Herndon moves forward with his appeal. 

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