A California man is suing Twitter and two progressive congresswomen in connection with President Donald Trump’s suspension from the social media platform, citing “overbearing pain and suffering.”
In the complaint filed in a U.S. District Court in California on Tuesday, Erik Estavillo argued that he and every “follower that was, without a doubt, emotionally and mentally damaged as a result of the Presidents’ ban” is entitled to $88.7 million each.
Estavillo, who is representing himself, is also seeking the reinstatement of Trump’s account and a retaliatory Twitter ban on Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar, who, he argues, promote “Eastern communist philosophies.”
The plaintiff claims that because of various health problems, including depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and Crohn’s syndrome, Estavillo has “no friends” and can rarely leave the house. As a result, the complaint says, he heavily relies on Twitter to participate in political discourse.
“The Americans with Disabilities Act should protect him from such egregious behavior on the part of Twitter,” the lawsuit reads. “He has nowhere else to voice his first amendment rights to free speech.”
Estavillo’s suit also argues that Twitter has become a “virtual company town,” which would exempt the platform from limiting certain free speech. The suit points to the Supreme Court’s decision in Marsh v. Alabama, where it ruled that certain public spaces, even privately owned ones, may be required to provide freedom of speech and religion.
The complaint notes that Estavillo is a registered Democrat. In a statement sent to the New York Post, the California man said he supported Senator Bernie Sanders in last year’s Democratic primaries but thinks this legal action will help protect First Amendment rights online.
He said he plans to file more suits against other platforms that have joined Twitter in banning Trump.
Last Friday, Twitter announced the platform would permanently ban Trump’s account after a temporary suspension that followed the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
A number of other social media platforms have followed suit. The president has now been banned from or restricted by Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, Google, Amazon Web Services (which previously hosted Parler), Apple’s App Store, Reddit, TikTok, Discord, Twitch, Shopify and Pinterest.
In response to the lawsuit, Omar tweeted, “Bless their heart.”
Omar’s team and Twitter declined Newsweek‘s request for comment.
The complaint also pointed to Omar’s and Ocasio-Cortez’s livestreams of the gaming platform Twitch, which is another network Estavillo uses to partake in political discourse.
Last year, Estavillo sued Twitch over masturbation injuries allegedly caused by “scantily clad gamers” on the platform.
In the complaint, he referred to the congresswomen’s streams as “dangerous propaganda” and singled out Ocasio-Cortez’s posts for promoting “communism, socialism and unjust censorship” of Trump.
The lawsuit says that the suspension of Trump’s account jeopardizes the First Amendment and argues that the American Civil Liberties Union “agrees.” However, in a previous interview with Newsweek, former ACLU lawyer David Goldberger argued that Twitter may not be required to grant freedom of speech to its users because its action is not government censorship.
“There is no state action, so the government is not involved at this point,” he said.
Notably, Goldberger represented the neo-Nazi group the National Socialist Party of America in the 1970s, advocating for its right to free speech.
Newsweek reached out to Ocasio-Cortez’s representatives for comment but did not hear back before publication.