SAN JOSE, Calif. — A California jury has levied $16.5 million in damages against a dating site for STD-positive singles that gave a promise of "100 percent" confidentiality to those who joined it.
Those who joined PositiveSingles.com, a John Doe plaintiff and other co-plaintiffs contended, found that parent company SuccessfulMatch.com mined their profiles and displayed "the personal profile, picture and other information of those who have one condition or characteristic" on thousands of its related websites.
The plaintiffs said that the promise of a free and anonymous profile on PositiveSingles.com, described as "a warmhearted and exclusive community for singles and friends with STDs," allowed SuccessfulMatch.com's 732,000 users to view full profiles. Doe said he is not black, gay, Christian or HIV-positive.
Certified as a class-action suit at Santa Clara Superior Court, Doe and the other plaintiffs claimed that PositiveSingles.com's parent company should be held liable for unfair competition and violations of California's Consumer Legal Remedies Act.
A jury agreed, and awarded plaintiffs $1.493 million in compensatory damages and $15 million in punitives last week.
For compensatory damages, the jury found PositiveSingles.com and its parent company made misleading statements and misrepresented their affiliation. For the $15 million punitive damages award, the jury found the sites committed oppression, malice and fraud.