Martha Wimmer and Ronald Wimmer, mother and father of Caroline Wimmer, are suing Facebook after a photo of their daughter's strangled body was posted on the social network by 46-year-old New York City paramedic Mark Musarella (pictured left). Prosecutors said Brooklyn resident Calvin Lawson killed the 26-year-old woman (pictured right) on March 28, 2009, over allegations that she'd told his girlfriend, the mother of his two children, on Myspace that he was cheating on her with another woman. He was sentenced to 25 years to life.
Yesterday was the two-year anniversary of Caroline's murder. She was found in her apartment two days after being brutally strangled with her hair dryer, according to CBS New York.
In addition to the social network, the parents are suing Musarella, the EMT who took pictures with his BlackBerry and posted them on Facebook, his employer, Richmond University Medical Center, Fire Commissioner Salvatore J. Cassano, the Fire Department of New York, and the owners of the apartment building Caroline lived in for not properly securing their property. Musarella was fired from his job and agreed to be stripped of his EMT license as well as to never again work as an EMT, in exchange for no jail time and 200 hours of community service.
The Wimmers aren't demanding money from Facebook (federal law limits them to asking for injunctive relief because the site is considered a "nonprofit community bulletin board"), but they do want the company to give them the pictures, delete them from its servers, as well as turn over details about anyone who saw and downloaded them. The family is, however, seeking unspecified monetary compensation from Richmond University Medical Center and the City of New York.
"In Caroline's case, pictures were taken without her consent by an EMT that was trespassing when he took his sick and illegal pictures ... Facebook displayed them to its members and allowed them to download the same," Ravi Batra, the Wimmers' lawyer, said in a statement. Batra also suggested that Facebook should hire more people to screen what is being uploaded to the site. "If they’re uploading 10 million pictures a month, they need more screeners. We need future victims, if there are any, to [be able to] hold Facebook accountable."
Facebook has denied the allegations and refused to comply with the suit's demands. "As to Facebook, the case is without merit and we will fight it vigorously," a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement.
"I'm just very upset and traumatized over all this," Caroline's mother said yesterday while announcing the lawsuits. "I haven't had a chance to heal yet. This is the second anniversary. We really need to improve our laws in New York...My daughter's picture was on the Internet and I can't get it back."