Match.com Sex Assault Suit Sent To State Court


     (CN) – A Hollywood executive must return to state court with a lawsuit that says she was raped by a known sex offender she met on the Match.com online dating service, a federal judge ruled.




     Though the anonymous woman sued Match in Los Angeles County Court last month, the website removed the case to the Central District of California on May 3.
     The original complaint states that she was forcibly raped by Alan Wurtzel, who she said belonged to Match though he was a predator with six separate convictions for sexual battery in Los Angeles County alone.
     Wurtzel reportedly pleaded not guilty to the rape.
     After the case was removed to federal court, the woman immediately filed for a temporary restraining order that would force Match to adopt screening measures to weed out sex offenders from its ranks. U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson refused by the end of the week, and the woman countered next with a motion for a preliminary injunction and to call witnesses.
     Court records show that she subpoenaed Wurtzel on May 18. That same day, Wilson rejected the motion to call witnesses in a terse-one page order that says there are “serious questions as to plaintiff’s standing, irreparable harm, and whether plaintiff has a claim as a matter of law.”
     “Until these issues are resolved, no live witness testimony is required,” Wilson added.
     Wednesday, Wilson filed a new order remanding the case back to Superior Court.
     “Plaintiff has presented no evidence that she plans to use Defendant’s services to meet other users,” Wilson wrote. “In fact, Plaintiff has stated that she only re-subscribed because ‘it came to my attention that I needed to be a member of Match to file a class action suit in Federal Court…’ Plaintiff’s counsel also represents that Plaintiff has not answered any e-mails inquiring of her availability for dates since the alleged assault.”
     “Even 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,” Wilson wrote. “Plaintiff’s claim relies upon a chain of speculative contingencies – she must first utilize Defendant’s services, choose to communicate with another known sex offender out of the millions of available users, go on a date with the user, and be sexually assaulted. Courts have found that a litigant does not have standing to seek injunctive relief on behalf of an unnamed class when the litigant’s claim depends on such a chain of speculative contingencies
Match’s lawyers have argued that the online dating service is trying to be vigilant, but implementing a 100 percent foolproof screening system is a practical impossibility.
     Because Match.com does not request Social Security numbers from its users, there is no way to ensure their honesty, the site claims.
     Mark Webb, who represents the alleged rape victim, responded in court papers by saying that “simply because no screening system is 100 percent fail safe, there is no excuse to not employ a method that is reasonably safe and economical.”

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