SexSearch and numerous other adult companies found themselves on the defense last year after Doe filed suit, alleging that company executives and business partners committed fraud and violated Ohio consumer laws, after he had intercourse with a minor he met online.
But the case was dismissed in August by U.S. District Judge Jack Zouhary, who said that Doe “employed a double-barreled shotgun approach … but failed to hit a claim upon which relief may be granted.”
In the appellate brief filed Tuesday, SexSearch urged the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to deny Doe’s petition, arguing that “his aim remains woefully off the mark.”
“SexSearch is one of the best run organizations on the Internet,” lead counsel Gary Kaufman told XBIZ. “Their policies have withstood all legal scrutiny and should be a model for the industry.
“I believe that the 6th Circuit will see this case for what it is — a last desperate attempt to save what was really just an elaborate shakedown,” said Kaufman of Los Angeles-based The Kaufman Law Group. “Litigation is all about credibility. How do you take the position that you should be compensated for having sex with a 14-year-old girl without losing it completely?”
The case, filed in Toledo, Ohio, centered around an adult male who said he was tricked into believing that a minor he met on SexSearch was in fact over the age 18 because she posted information that stated such and that the online company represented to him that it verifies the age of all members who use their site.
More than a month after having consensual intercourse with the minor at her home, the John Doe plaintiff was arrested and charged with a variety of charges of unlawful conduct with a minor.
The man, whose age has not been revealed, faced up to 15 years in prison, but his criminal trial was dismissed.
The 14-year-old minor, whose profile was active on SexSearch until it was removed by her parents, included her photo on the site, as well as listings that said she was looking for a “1 on 1 sexual encounter” and that her ideal match included her interest in a male “who can last for a long time.”
SexSearch claimed in the brief filed Tuesday that it is immune through the Communications Decency Act because it acts as an Internet service provider and that Doe’s state claims all failed in the lower court decision at U.S. District Court.
“SexSearch had no duty to warn John Doe of the obvious danger of anonymous posting of false content on the Internet,” the brief said. “The [federal court] was correct in dismissing John Doe’s complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted.”
Kaufman said that SexSearch has taken the right course in the case, despite the enormous cost of litigation.
“The bottom line is that as I advise all of my clients, you must defend against each and every frivolous lawsuit,” he said. “Otherwise, you will end up being pennywise and pound foolish. The only way to deter these types of cases is to aggressively defend them.
“SexSearch’s policy is that they would rather pay many dollars for litigation expenses than pay a single penny to a nuisance plaintiff. This is the only way to send the appropriate message.”
The suit’s long list of defendants includes Manic Media and Stallion.com. Also listed as defendants are SexSearch executives Ed Kunkel, Damian Cross and Adam Small, as well as SexSearch hosting company ExperiencedInternet.com.
Plaintiff’s attorney Dean Boland did not return XBIZ calls for comment by post time.
The 6th Circuit is not expected to rule on the case until later this year.