On May 2, 2018, a class action lawsuit based on violations of Illinois State marketing laws was filed by Plaintiff Matthew Ditnes (“Ditnes”) in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois against Defendant Match Group, LLC. Match Group, LLC owns and operates the dating website “Match.com,” as well as the websites “Tinder” and “PlentyOfFish.” Ditnes alleges that Match.com is the largest subscription-based website in the U.S., with over twenty-one million users.
In his lawsuit, Ditnes asserts claims for violations of both the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act and the Illinois Dating Referral Services Act (the “DRSA”). These marketing laws were enacted to protect consumers from false, deceptive and misleading business practices. While the DSRA provides for treble damages, Ditnes also seeks disgorgement of Match.com’s allegedly ill-gotten gains in the form of the subscription fees that it collects from Match.com members.
Why did the Plaintiff sue Match.com?
Ditnes’ claims are based on his allegation that he subscribed to Match.com for a monthly fee and was led to believe that he was creating a profile to access its database of other enrolled members in order to find potential romantic partners. In truth, Ditnes alleges, well over half of the site profiles are fake or fraudulent and Match.com either participates in their creation and/or makes no effort to vet, police or remove them. Rather, it is alleged, Match.com improperly profits by relying on the inflated number of reported members in its marketing campaigns to lure new members and their associated subscription fees.
Ditnes details some of his own Match.com experiences in the complaint, including receiving significant interest originating from different member profiles that used identical photographs and identical detailed information, but different names. He contends that these were duplicate, false profiles and depicted people who were not in fact members of the site. Fundamentally, Ditnes asserts that he was misled into believing that all users were actual people with whom he could interact. Ditnes seeks to recover his own damages, as well as damages for the “class” of people he represents. That “class” has been identified as all people who subscribed to Match.com and received messages from people identified as Match.com users but were not, in fact, Match.com members. Please note that no defined period of time is contained in the complaint that would limit the size of the class.
Match.com has been the subject of various blog posts discussing its alleged fake profile problem. This lawsuit revolves around some of the same allegations.
The Importance of Lawyers who practice in the field of Marketing Law
We have previously blogged about marketing and advertising law and matters pertaining to various businesses, including Internet marketing and telemarketing companies. As this case illustrates, in order to assess risks and ways to avoid or minimize exposure, it is important to consult with knowledgeable marketing law counsel.