A jury has awarded more than $16 million in damages in a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of California users of an STD-positive dating site accused of leaking confidential information.
The jury awarded users of the site Positivesingles.com, which catered to those living with sexually transmitted infections, $1.5 million dollars in compensatory damages and $15 million in punitive damages, reports the New York Daily News. The lawsuit was filed after users of the site discovered that their profiles were being displayed on other websites owned by the PostiveSingles.com's parents company SuccessfulMatch.com.
Where else were these users finding their supposedly private information?
Profiles Shared With PositivelyKinky.com, ChristianSafeHaven.com
According to the complaint filed in California Superior Court in 2011, SuccessfulMatch.com set up hundreds or thousands of dating sites, allowing anyone who purchased a domain name and created a website to pull from its database of dating profiles. Users who registered for the dating site PositiveSingles.com were told their profile information would be "100% confidential" when in reality their profiles would soon appear on hundreds or thousands of other sites within SuccessfulMatch.com's network of dating websites.
The plaintiff in the class action lawsuit -- named in the complaint as "John Doe" -- alleged that after creating a profile on PositiveSingles.com, his profile subsequently appeared on other SuccessfulMatch.com. These other dating sites purportedly catered to the gay, HIV positive, black, or Christian dating communities.
Deceptive Trade Practices
Among the allegations made in the lawsuit was that the company violated California's deceptive business practices statute's prohibition against unfair competition. This law prohibits an "unlawful, unfair, or fraudulent business act or practice and unfair, deceptive, untrue or misleading advertising."
Although the laws vary by state, deceptive trade practices can result in criminal prosecution and the awarding of civil damages such as those in this case. Although the victims in this case may not even regain their privacy, the $16 million in damages may help.
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