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Vol. 5, Iss. 2
February 10, 2016

Suing Match.com: Looking For A Relationship – With Match’s Money


Match.com has faced dozens of law suits over the years in federal and state courts. They come in all shapes and sizes. Many of them involve business-related issues, such as patent infringement, consumer protection and intellectual property issues. In addition, Match has been sued when things went awry following introductions made through the site. Needless to say, when you are in the business of facilitating introductions, between strangers, for the purpose of forming relationships to varying degrees – including intimate -- the train is bound to go off the tracks. Having said that, despite this seeming recipe for trouble, I couldn’t locate too many instances where Match has been sued by one member for the conduct of another. No doubt Match does a good job of protecting itself from them.

But I found a few. I hate to be a Debbie Downer on Valentine’s Day, but here’s a brief description of some cases where Match.com members sought relief after using its service.

Gilbert Lau v. Match.com, United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 13CV2938 (May 10, 2013): Plaintiff alleges that Match.com failed to prevent him from being scammed by various customers – allegedly to the tune of several hundred thousand dollars. Here’s just one of the scams that plaintiff Gilbert Lau says he fell for: “On July, 2011 I met by online and NOT in person defendant Mercer in defendant Match.com site. In three days she later says she is in Nigeria, for her father’s inheritance of $2,500,000.00. She says needed $85,000.00 of money for legal expense and personal expenses. Plaintiff did bank wired to defendant Mercer and plaintiff’s friends James Larkins and Marla Johns warned the plaintiff this is a scam because Nigeria is the scam capital country of the world. This happen in the internet date. The defendant Match.com did not have any security prevention to protect plaintiff as result plaintiff loss all his money and upon information and belief other customers both men and women are victim. Do to the failure of defendant Match.com Plaintiff loss total of $362,000.000 because Defendant Match.com willfully neglect Plaintiff loss total of $362,000.00 because of defendant Match.com conduct.” (sic). Complaint at para. 10. [Plaintiff voluntarily dismissed his action without prejudice on November 14, 2013.]

Mary Kay Beckman v. Match.com, United States District Court for the District of Nevada, No. 13CV97 (Jan. 18, 2013): Plaintiff alleges that she sustained life-threatening injuries after being stabbed by a man that she met on Match and with whom she had a ten day dating relationship. Plaintiff alleges that “[d]efendant Match has employed deceptive acts and/or practices directly affecting commerce by way of falsely advertising matchmaking services purporting to only facilitate happy and healthy relationships between its members. Complaint at para. 42. Plaintiff also alleges that “[d]efendant directly misled Plaintiff into believing that a subscription to Defendant’s services came with associated protections and safeguards that are absent in other internet based forums.” Complaint at para. 44.

The court granted Match.com’s Motion to Dismiss. Among other reasons: “Match.com asserts that plaintiff has failed to state a claim for her negligence claims because Match.com had no legal duty to prevent the brutal attack. Plaintiff responds that a special relationship has arisen because she was a ‘paying subscriber’ as alleged in the complaint. However, merely being a ‘paying subscriber’ is insufficient to establish a special relationship. Here, the brutal attack occurred offline several months after plaintiff and Ridley had ended their dating relationship that began by communicating over the website. The court finds that plaintiff’s factual allegations do not support her claim that a special relationship existed between herself and Match.com. Plaintiff cites no authority, and the court is aware of none, that supports her position that Nevada courts would find a special relationship between a provider of online dating services and subscribers. In fact, a district court has held that, under Texas law, a website operator’s relationship with a paying website subscriber is not special, but instead an ‘ordinary commercial contract relationship.’” Beckman v. Match.com, 2013 WL 2355512 at *8-9 (D.Nev. May 29, 2013). [Plaintiff appealed to the Ninth Circuit. The last entry on the Ninth Circuit docket – Court received seven paper copies of Plaintiff’s Reply Brief (4/14/14).]

In Doe v. Match.com, 789 F. Supp. 2d 1197 (C.D. Cal. May 25, 2011), the Plaintiff alleged that she used Match.com to meet another subscriber -- who was a serial sexual predator. Plaintiff alleged that this subscriber forcibly raped her, and that Match “could have instituted basic screening procedures to prevent her rape.” The court denied Plaintiff’s request for a TRO to prohibit Match “from signing up new members until an effective screening process is in place.”

Turing to the Plaintiff’s request for a permanent injunction, the court denied that as well, holding that Plaintiff “presented no evidence that she plans to use Defendant’s services to meet other users,” thus, “diminishing the possibility that she could suffer any injury caused by Defendant's failure to screen for sexual offenders.” Further, “[e]ven if Plaintiff’s own admissions suggesting that she plans to avoid Defendant’s services are ignored, Plaintiff has not shown that she has a greater likelihood of injury than any of Defendant’s other one million subscribers and millions of members nationwide.” Id. at 1200-01.


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