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Lawsuit filed against Meta, ByteDance, Inc., TikTok and Metropolitan Transportation Authority on the one-year anniversary of Zackery Nazario’s death from a “subway surfing” accident

Family and friends will gather at Williamsburg Bridge to hold a candlelight vigil and march to the location near where Zackery fell to his death while participating in the dangerous social media trend

NEW YORK – FEBRURARY 20, 2024 – The Social Media Victims Law Center and Belluck & Fox, LLP are filing a wrongful death lawsuit against Meta Platforms, Inc., ByteDance, Inc., TikTok and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) in the death of 15-year-old Zackery Nazario, who died while riding atop a subway car traveling across Williamsburg Bridge in Brooklyn, NY after being inspired by “Subway Surfing Challenge” videos he was exposed to on social media.

This lawsuit, which will be filed later today in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of New York, seeks to hold the social media companies responsible for promoting and profiting from the viral “Subway Surfing Challenge” videos that targeted, encouraged, and inspired Zackery to engage in this extremely dangerous trend.

While subway surfing has been around since the 1980s, a new generation of teens is drawn in by the rush of seeing the reactions on TikTok and Instagram. The MTA, which tracks the instances of people riding outside the trains, saw a noticeable spike beginning in 2021.  In the first six months of 2023, there were more than 450 instances of people riding outside of trains, according to MTA data, a more than 70 percent increase from 2019, when there were 262 such reports.  In 2023 alone, five individuals were killed by subway surfing in New York City, including Zackery. This is compared to a total of five subway surfing deaths that occurred over a four-year period between 2018 and 2022.  Mayor Eric Adams blamed the “over proliferation” of daredevil posts on online platforms for driving this dangerous trend.

Nazario Lawsuit

The lawsuit also seeks to hold the MTA responsible for failing to address a serious and foreseeable risk of harm that ultimately contributed to Zackery’s death because of its failure to lock the doors between subway cars to prevent riders from climbing between moving subway cars or to place safety barriers to prevent passengers access to the subway car roofs.

“There has been a huge increase in subway surfing incidents over the past year driven by social media challenges on Meta platforms and TikTok that has been aided by the MTA’s inability to secure its trains,” said Matthew P. Bergman, founding attorney of Social Media Victims Law Center, who represents the Nazario family.  “Meta, TikTok and Metropolitan Transportation Authority share responsibility for this dangerous trend.”

According to the lawsuit, on Monday, February 20, 2023, shortly after being directed to a “Subway Surfing Challenge” video, Zackery climbed atop a Brooklyn-bound J train. At 6:45 P.M., he opened the unlocked train door and walked between moving cars.  Zackery was then able to climb atop the moving train to participate in the “Subway Surfing Challenge.”  While the train went along the Williamsburg Bridge, Zackery was struck in the head by a low beam and fell between the subway cars. He was run over by another train and died.

Zackery’s One Year Anniversary Memorial Service

Today, on the one-year anniversary of Zackery’s death, his family and friends will gather at the Williamsburg Bridge at 6:00 PM to hold a candlelight vigil and to march to location near where Zackery fell to his death.  During the memorial, loved ones will share their memories of Zackery and call upon social media companies and the MTA to do more to stop the dangerous and deadly “Subway Surfing Challenge.”  At 6:45 PM, the time when Zackery died, they will release balloons into the air in his memory.

About the Social Media Victims Law Center

The Social Media Victims Law Center (SMVLC),, was founded in 2021 to hold social media companies legally accountable for the harm they inflict on vulnerable users. SMVLC seeks to apply principles of product liability to force social media companies to elevate consumer safety to the forefront of its economic analysis and design safer platforms to protect users from foreseeable harm.

 About Matthew P. Bergman

Matthew P. Bergman is an attorney, law professor, philanthropist and community activist who has recovered over $1 billion on behalf of his clients. He is the founder of the Social Media Victims Law Center and Bergman Draper Oslund Udo law firm; a professor at Lewis & Clark Law School; and serves on the board of directors of nonprofit institutions in higher education, national security, civil rights, worker protection and the arts.

If your child or young family member has suffered from serious depression, chronic eating disorder, hospitalization, sexual exploitation, self-harm, or suicide as a result of their social media use, speak to us today for a no-cost legal consultation.