There are no guarantees in love -- at least in the contractual sense. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals used similar reasoning when dismissing the final claim of a putative class of plaintiffs who alleged that Match.com misled them in their quests for love
The Oct. 3 unpublished opinion in Nancy Malsom, et al. v. Match.com notes that the plaintiffs sued the dating website, alleging breach of contract, breach of duty of good faith and unconscionable conduct. A Northern District of Texas trial court dismissed the first two claims. The trial judge later dismissed the unconscionable-conduct claim, which the plaintiffs appealed to the 5th Circuit.
The plaintiffs alleged, among other things, that Match.com used “misleading tactics” to give prospective users an inflated sense of the number of users on the website by not vetting new profiles and allowing fake profiles to proliferate, according to the decision.
With regard to the unconscionable-conduct claim, the plaintiffs alleged that Match “took advantage of their lack of knowledge, ability, experience and/or capacity to a grossly unfair degree,” the opinion continues.
The trial court dismissed the cause of action for failure to state a claim under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA). The 5th Circuit noted that plaintiffs had not alleged anything that took advantage of their lack of “knowledge, ability, experience and/or capacity” that could have resulted in liability “even in the absence of a contract between the parties.”
“To hold [the plaintiffs’] claims actionable under the DTPA ‘would convert every breach of contract into a DTPA claim,’ ” wrote 5th Circuit Judge Ed Prado. “Nothing in the complaint suggests that Match had no intention of fulfilling its contract; the complaint instead alleges various ways in which Match has violated the parties' contract,” Prado wrote.
Baker Botts partner Shira Yoshor of Houstonm who represents Match.com, is pleased with the decision.
“It seemed like a pretty clear-cut legal decision for the 5th Circuit to make, and of course one that we agree with,’’ Yoshor says.
Jeffrey Norton, a partner in New York City’s Newman Ferrara who represents the plaintiffs, did not immediately return a call for comment.
-- John Council