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Class-action lawsuit filed against Snapchat over drug delivery deaths

Attorneys say they represent more than 50 families with children who have all died from fentanyl received via the social media app.

SEATTLE — Attorneys say Snapchat has become the delivery system of choice for drug dealers pushing their products into young hands.

One year ago a two-time overdose survivor showed KING 5 just how easy it is find illegal drugs via the app.

He pulled out his cell phone and found a connection in a matter of moments -- one that was even willing to deliver to his house.

"It's like Amazon for drug dealers," he said.

The Snapchat app enables dealers to deliver drugs directly to teens anonymously -- everything from Adderall to Oxycontin.

Many of the pills, however, are counterfeits -- containing deadly doses of the synthetic opioid fentanyl -- 50 times stronger than heroin.

One of those pills killed Carol Schweigert's son, Trey.

For the past five years she's been fighting for awareness, but it hasn't come easily.

"There are lives lost every single day and the battle has been uphill," she says.

According to the CDC, fentanyl kills more than 150 Americans every day. 

Now, a Seattle law firm is going after the company with a class-action lawsuit that claims this is not a social media problem. It is specifically a Snapchat problem.

"Snapchat has been turning a blind eye to this issue. They've know about it for years," says Matthew Bergman, an attorney with Seattle's Social Media Victims Law Center.

Bergman said his firm is representing the families of 52 children who have died from fentanyl overdoses -- all of whom got the drug via Snapchat.

"That's not an accident. That is because Snapchat is designed to evade oversight and parental responsibility," Bergman said. 

A campaign to clamp down on Snapchat and other social media companies is being spearheaded by Republican eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers.

She is seeking to narrow liability protections for tech companies and widen them for children.

"We must take an all-hands-on-deck approach to preventing the sale and transfer of these illegal drugs on these platforms to prevent one more child from dying," she told the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Moms like Carol Schweigert are continuing their relentless battle, pushing for more accountability from Snapchat, more awareness from the public and more arrests from law enforcement.

"It will never bring back our loved ones," she says, "but holding people accountable is important to do because otherwise it's just gonna keep going on."

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