Woman Stabbed by Date Can Sue Match.com

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – A Nevada woman who was nearly killed by her online date can pursue failure-to-warn claims against Match.com, the Ninth Circuit ruled Thursday.
     The three-judge panel of Judges Mary Murguia, Richard Paez and Andrew Hurwitz said Mary Beckman, who was stalked and attacked by her Internet match Wade Ridley, can revive her claim, in light of the court’s recent opinion in Doe No. 14 v. Internet Brands.
     In that case, two men lured a woman through a website called Internet Brands to a fake modeling audition, then filmed her being drugged and raped. She sued Internet Brands under Nevada law, claiming it knew about the criminal activity and failed to warn her and others.
     Under the Communications Decency Act, or CDA, websites are not liable for information posted on their sites by third parties.
     But the judges said actual knowledge of foreseeable harms is a different matter, since Nevada law provides that a defendant has a duty to warn in such instances.
     “In Doe Number 14, we held that at the pleading stage, the CDA did not preclude a plaintiff from alleging a state law failure to warn claim against a website owner who had obtained information ‘from an outside source about how third parties targeted and lured victims’ through that website platform,” Thursday’s unsigned opinion states. “Importantly, Doe’s claim did not seek to impose liability for the website owner’s role as a ‘publisher or speaker’ of third-party content, for its failure to remove that content, or for its failure to monitor third-party content on its website.”
     Beckman and Ridley had their first date on Sept. 26, 2010, but Ridley began harassing Beckman after she tried to break it off. On the night of Jan. 21, 2011, Ridley hid in Beckman’s garage, stabbed her 10 times, and then stomped on her head when the knife broke.
     Beckman had been left for dead and required several surgeries to repair her jaw, remove part of her skull, and preserve her eyesight and hearing.
     The Ninth Circuit remanded Beckman’s claim for failure to warn to the district court, saying she should have a chance to prove that Match.com knew Ridley had been paired with and attacked other women using its platform.
     “At oral argument, Beckman’s counsel represented that if granted leave to amend, Beckman could allege that Match had actual knowledge that Ridley had identified and attacked other women using Match’s service prior to his attack on Beckman,” they wrote. “In light of counsel’s representations and Doe Number 14, Beckman should have the opportunity to cure the deficiencies in her failure to warn claim, if possible.”
     Ridley was convicted of killing an ex-girlfriend in Phoenix. Sentenced to decades behind bars, he died in prison a year before Beckman sued Match for $10 million.
     Prior to that Ridley’s murder conviction, his lengthy criminal history included arrests in 1992, after he tried to commit suicide by police officer, in 1999 for domestic violence, and in 2001 for battery.

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