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Can a Dating Site Be Sued If Your Date Turns Dangerous?

By Lisa M. Schaffer, Esq. on November 27, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

It's hard to meet people these days, which is undoubtedly why there are so many dating apps currently on the market. But what if something goes wrong, like really wrong. Can you sue a dating app or website if your date turns out to be dangerous? Unfortunately, the answer may surprise you.

No Special Relationship Between Dating App and App Users

The Communications Decency Act generally bars liability of any dating app for harm happening from a third party user. Turning to state tort law and examining negligence, a duty of care only exists if there is a special relationship between the parties.

In a recent ruling in the Ninth Circuit, no special relationship exists between a dating app user and the app itself. Therefore, without a special relationship, no duty is owed. In that case, Mary Kay Beckman was viciously stabbed and beaten by Wade Riley, whom she was matched with on Beckman argued that Match had a duty to warn her that her date was dangerous, but the courts disagreed. With no special relationship established between Match and Beckman, Match didn't even have a duty to warn, let alone any sort of duty to protect.

Actual Knowledge Can Be Hard to Come By

If, however, a dating app has actual knowledge that someone using their site has been found guilty of committing violent acts so similar that they would rise to the level of foreseeable harm, then it is possible there could be a duty to warn. Unfortunately, dating apps will not go out of their way to find this knowledge. For instance, in the Beckman case, Ridley did have a history of criminal violence, including domestic violence and battery about 10 years prior to this attack. However, Match was unaware of this criminal record and therefore did not have actual knowledge of foreseeable harm.

If you have been hurt, physically or psychologically, from someone you met on a dating app, contact a local personal injury attorney. There may be factors of which you are unaware that could give rise to a duty of care owed by the dating app. At the very least, a legal adviser can help you secure protective orders against your assailant, and may even be able to successfully sue to reimburse you for your costs, as well as pain and suffering.

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