A DISCUSSION OF LAW AND JOURNALISM

Tag: match.com

Don’t Sue the Matchmaker

Bad date

By LASIS Staff

We’ve all been through bad blind dates. We’ve lied (“I don’t feel well, I really have to go home now” or even “Sorry, I have an early morning flight to catch”); sulked (“Nothing’s wrong, why?”); and cursed the gods above for bringing us into contact with such a nerd/cad/ space cadet (“Darn  you, gods, for bringing me into contact with this horrible individual!”)

And that’s just when the date is someone we’d rather not be having dinner with.

So we understand that Mary Kay Beckman was more than a tad disappointed when her Match.com date hid in her garage, stabbed her 10 times, kicked her, and left her for dead.  Now that’s a bad date.

Ms. Beckham is suing the dating website for “failure to warn her of the dangers of meeting “an individual whose intentions are not to find a mate, but to find victims to kill or rape,”

LASIS remembers a similar suit against Match.com.  Here are the reasons why Ms. Beckham should drop her suit and try meeting people the old fashioned way.

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Are Online Dating Sites Liable for Members’ Safety?

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By Sarah Berent

In the past couple of years, online dating has grown from connoting a not-so-pleasant stigma to a viable, more socially acceptable way to meet a significant other. By now, nearly everyone has at least a second-degree connection to someone who met his soulmate on one of the many available matchmaking sites. According to one source, revenue from online dating sites is growing 10-15% per year and yearly estimates for popular sites Match.com and eharmony.com are a staggering $343 million and $250 million, respectively.

As terrific as the benefits of online dating are, (which of course include being able to shop for a date in your pajamas), there are obvious downsides to the practice, namely the anonymous nature of the Internet. Unfortunately, even the most vigilant online daters can find they weren’t careful enough.

This is exactly what happened last year to L.A.-based entertainment executive Carole Markin, who went out with a man identified as Alan Wurtzel, who she met on Match.com. After an enjoyable first date, the couple went out a second time, and that’s when things turned ugly:  Ms. Markin alleges that Mr. Wurtzel sexually assaulted her. Criminal charges against Mr. Wurtzel are currently pending in California.

Ms. Markin filed a class action in L.A. against Match.com on April 13 on behalf of every fee-paying female member since August 2010. The suit claims that the website endangers its women customers by not instituting screening procedures that weed out sexual predators.

Ms. Wurtzel and her lawyer are arguing that dating sites can help prevent the risk of sexual assaults between member matches.  A public record search of a city database revealed Mr. Wurtzel to be a six-time sex offender.

After the lawsuit was filed, the dating site announced it will begin cross-referencing members with the National Sex Offender Registry. If Match.com makes good on its announcement and follows through, Ms. Markin says she will drop her lawsuit.

While the media has paid great attention to why or why not screening procedures will effectively reduce the risk of sexual assault in the world of online dating, no one has analyzed whether or not Match.com could actually be held liable for the illegal acts of its members.

We will. (more…)

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