“Elementary-school-aged children do not have the knowledge or the insight to realize that these are dangerous things to do,” she said.
One of the girls named in the lawsuit, Lalani Erika Walton, 8, of Temple, Texas, was described in the suit as a sweet and outgoing child who loved dressing up as a princess and playing with makeup. She wanted to be a famous rapper like Cardi B.
She got her first cellphone on her 8th birthday on April 23, 2021, and quickly became “addicted” to TikTok, where she posted videos of herself singing and dancing in hopes of becoming “TikTok famous,” the suit says.
After Lalani was seriously injured in a car accident in which one of her stepbrothers died, she went to live with her stepmother. Without her mother or stepmother knowing, TikTok’s algorithm “directed” Lalani in July 2021 to the blackout challenge, the lawsuit says.
Lalani had bruises on her neck on July 13, 2021, and told her family that she had fallen and bumped herself on her bed frame, the suit says. Soon after, she spent some, if not most, of a 20-hour car trip with her stepmother, sitting in the back seat, watching the blackout challenge, the suit says.
On July 15, 2021, Lalani was found with a rope around her neck, the suit says.
After her death, the police took Lalani’s phone and tablet, and told her stepmother that “Lalani did not commit suicide,” the lawsuit says. A police officer showed the videos of the blackout challenge to the stepmother and said that Lalani had been watching the video on repeat and had been trying the challenge herself, the suit says.