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Doe v. Successfulmatch.Com

United States District Court, N.D. California, San Jose Division

April 16, 2014

JANE DOE 1 AND JANE DOE 2, Plaintiffs,
v.
SUCCESSFULMATCH.COM, a California Corporation, Defendant.

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT WITHOUT PREJUDICE AND DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO STRIKE

LUCY H. KOH, District Judge.

Before the Court is Defendant Successfulmatch.com's ("Defendant") Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs' Complaint or, in the Alternative, to Strike Class Allegations. ECF No. 16 ("Mot."). Plaintiffs Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2 (collectively "Plaintiffs") oppose the motion, ECF No. 20 ("Opp."), and Defendant has filed a Reply, ECF No. 21 ("Reply"). Pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7-1(b), the Court finds this matter appropriate for resolution without oral argument and hereby VACATES the hearing regarding this motion scheduled for April 17, 2014, at 1:30 p.m. The Case Management Conference scheduled for April 17, 2014, at 1:30 p.m. remains as set. Having considered the submissions of the parties, the relevant law, and the record in this case, the Court GRANTS Defendant's Motion to Dismiss without prejudice, and DENIES Defendant's Motion to Strike Class Allegations for the reasons below.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Plaintiffs' Factual Allegations

Plaintiff Jane Doe 1, a Canadian resident, and Plaintiff Jane Doe 2, a Washington resident, filed a putative class action complaint on July 19, 2013 against Defendant Successfulmatch.com, a California corporation that operates a variety of dating sites. ECF No. 1 ("Compl.") ¶¶ 1, 4-6. Among the dating sites Defendant operates is PositiveSingles.com, which is marketed to persons with sexually transmitted diseases ("STDs"). Compl. ¶ 1. PositiveSingles.com is designed to help people with STDs meet others who are similarly situated or accepting of members' medical conditions. Id.

PositiveSingles.com allows members to register and create a profile on the site for free. Id. ¶ 12. If a member decides to use only a free membership, their profile is anonymous. Id. ¶ 15. However, PositiveSingles.com also offers paid memberships, and paid subscribers can disclose more information on their profiles and add a picture. Id. PositiveSingles.com's home page asks, "Do you wish there was a place where you didn't have to worry about being rejected or discriminated? This is a warm-hearted and exclusive community for singles and friends with STDs." Id. ¶ 11. The home page contains a button with the phrase "Join for Free" and a link that states "Totally Free to Place a Fully Anonymous Profile." Both the button and the link take a potential member to the PositiveSingles.com registration page. Id. ¶ 12.

The registration page states that PositiveSingles.com is a "100% Confidential and Comfortable Community, " and that "[i]t's absolutely FREE to try out PositiveSingles.com.... We do not disclose, sell, or rent any personally identifiable information to any third party organizations." Id. ¶¶ 13-14. The registration page asks members to provide their first name, email address, age, ethnicity, height, gender, gender of desired partner, location, and their medical condition. ECF No. 17 ("RJN"), Ex. 1B. At the bottom of the registration page, there is a button that states "Continue and Have Fun, " which creates the profile. RJN Ex. 1B. Just above the "Continue and Have Fun" button is a checkbox that states "I am 18 and have read and agree to the Service Agreement and Privacy Policy, " which links to the Service Agreement (titled "Terms & Conditions of Service") and Privacy Policy. RJN Ex. 1A, 1B; Comp. ¶ 16. The Terms & Conditions of Service state: "To expand the availability of profiles on SuccessfulMatch sites, profiles may be shared with other sites within the SuccessfulMatch network. By posting or maintaining a profile on this or any other SuccessfulMatch Network site, you agree and consent that said profile shall be subject to placement on other SuccessfulMatch Network sites, at the discretion of SuccessfulMatch, without further notice." RJN Ex. 1A.3 (emphasis added).

In addition to operating its own dating websites, Defendant allows its customers (called "affiliate partners") to create new online dating websites for niche audiences. Specifically, these affiliate partners contract with the Defendant, and Defendant provides affiliate partners with a domain name, a site, and Defendant's central membership database. Compl. ¶¶ 17, 19. Defendant's network of affiliated sites serve a diverse set of communities and have domain names such as Blackpoz.com, HivAidsDating.com, HIVGayMen.com, AllLifestyle4BBW.com, and ChristianSafeHaven.com, among others. Id. ¶ 2. Because Defendant managed a single database of member information for all of its sites, a member who registered with an affiliate site could view the profile information of a PositiveSingles.com member. Id. Therefore, the profile of that member who registered for PositiveSingles.com could be viewed by members of not only PositiveSingles.com, but also by members of the various affiliated sites. Id. ; Compl. Exs. A-C.

Plaintiffs' critical allegation is that Defendant fraudulently and deceptively failed to disclose that profiles created through PositiveSingles.com could be viewed on Defendant's affiliate dating sites. Plaintiffs allege that to users, PositiveSingles.com appears to be a stand-alone website. Compl. ¶ 22. Plaintiffs contend that Defendants induced consumers to sign up for their dating service by misrepresenting the privacy of their information with statements such as "100% Confidential and Comfortable Community" and "[Defendant does] not disclose, sell or rent any personally identifiable information to any third party organizations." Compl. ¶¶ 13-14. Plaintiffs further assert that even if members were generally aware of the existence of Defendant's affiliate sites, it is not possible for a member to determine exactly how many and what type of sites are associated with PositiveSingles.com. Compl. ¶ 23.

B. Procedural History

Plaintiffs filed their Complaint on July 19, 2013. ECF No. 1. In their Complaint, Plaintiffs allege two causes of action. Plaintiffs allege that Defendant has violated multiple provisions of the Consumer Legal Remedies Act ("CLRA"), Cal. Civ. Code §§ 1750 et seq. Compl. ¶¶ 41-52. Plaintiffs also allege that Defendant has violated the Unfair Competition Law ("UCL"), Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code §§ 17200 et seq., which is predicated in part upon the violations of the CLRA. Id. ¶¶ 32-40. Plaintiffs seek to bring this putative class action on behalf of the following proposed class:

All persons who registered for use of the PositiveSingles.com website or any other website indicating that it was "Powered by PositiveSingles.com" during the four year period prior to the filing date of this Complaint, excluding residents of California.

Id. ¶ 26. The instant case follows a similar suit brought against Defendant in Santa Clara County Superior Court, John Doe v. PositiveSingles.com et al., 111-CV-211208.[1] See RJN. The plaintiff in that case brought claims on behalf of a class of California residents who registered with PositiveSingles.com or any of Defendant's affiliate sites. Id. at 7. Here, in contrast, Plaintiffs seek redress for non-California users of Defendant's services.

On December 2, 2013, Defendants filed the instant Motion to Dismiss, as well as a Request for Judicial Notice to include filings from John Doe v. PositiveSingles.com et al. See Mot; RJN.[2] Plaintiffs filed their Opposition on December 16, 2013, see Opp., and Defendants filed a Reply on December 23, 2013, see Reply.

II. LEGAL ...


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