Mary Kay Beckman of Phoenix, Arizona is suing Match.com for a relationship gone awry. Specifically, after breaking up with the man she met online, he broke into her garage, stabbed her over ten times, and then stepped on her head after his knife broke. When the police arrived, the man admitted that the reason he came to Ms. Beckman’s house was to kill her.
While Ms. Beckman eventually recovered from her terrible injuries, the man later committed suicide in prison. Subsequent investigations revealed that the man had significant long-standing mental health issues and had actually murdered another woman that he had previously met on Match.com before he met Mary Kay Beckman.
With the increasing popularity of online dating, it is increasingly likely that we will begin to see more and more of these types of incidents and lawsuits. Whether you agree or disagree that a dating website should be held responsible for putting innocent users in contact with murderers, there are several legal claims that may be brought in court.
Depending on the exact language of the Match.com (or other dating website) user agreement, there may be a claim for breach of contract. Specifically, the user is paying money to the site in exchange for connecting the user with potential mates. If the site violates that agreement and puts the user in contact with a known murderer, rapist, or other violent criminal, there may be a breach of contract claim.
There may also be a civil negligence claim. One could certainly argue that Match.com and similar websites have a legal duty to use reasonable care to make sure that its users are not injured. The user could then argue that the website breached that duty of reasonable care when it failed to screen its users’ criminal histories and proceeded to put innocent users in contact with convicts which subsequently results in injury – all in the name of profit.
In addition to breach of contract and negligence claims, there may be a fraud/intentional misrepresentation/deceit claim. This would occur if the website’s advertising or promotional materials tout the site as a fun/safe dating site, when in fact the site is aware that some of its members are dangerous convicts.
Other types of claims may also be available depending on the specific facts of the case.
If you have been the victim of violence as a result of a Match.com date or a date from a similar website, call the Ohio lawyers at Charles E. Boyk Law Offices, LLC today at 419-241-1395 or 1-800-637-8170.