United States District Court, C.D. California, Western Division
JOHN DOE (a pseudonym), individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
AVID LIFE MEDIA, INC., an Ontario corporation, and AVID DATING LIFE, INC, an Ontario corporation dba ASHLEY MADISON Defendants.
HAMMOND, POLINA PECHERSKAYA API CHERNIAK HAMMONDLAW, PC.
Attorneys for Plaintiffs and Putative Class.
DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL
JOHN DOE ("Plaintiff) brings this class action against
Defendants AVID LIFE MEDIA, INC. and AVID DATING LIFE, INC.,
d/b/a Ashley Madison ("Defendants") on behalf of
himself and all others similarly situated. Except as to his
own actions, Plaintiff avers the following allegations upon
information and belief of the investigation of his counsel
and the facts that are a matter of public record:
operate a dating site under the ASHLEY MADISON trademark as
AshleyMadison.com. The Ashley Madison website, in
operation since 2002, is designed to facilitate discreet
intimate adult relationships for individuals who are either
married or are in committed relationships. Ashley Madison
targets individuals who reside in the United States as well
as outside the United States. The website boasts a current
membership of approximately 37 million users and is rated the
twentieth most popular adult website in the United
States. The website has proven extraordinarily
lucrative, yielding Defendants $115.5 million in revenue in
website stores personal and financial information of its
users, such as users' login details, mailing addresses,
email addresses, phone numbers, payment transaction details,
credit card data, and passwords. Importantly, highly
sensitive user profile data such as photographs and sexual
fantasies is also stored in the website.
can only be described as a nightmare for the users of
Ashley Madison.com, on or about July 20, 2015, the
hacking collective Impact Team accessed and downloaded the
personal and financial data of approximately all 37 million
Ashley Madison.com customers. Following this theft
of information, the hackers threatened that if Defendants did
not shut down the website, they would release all customer
information on the Internet in a "data dump." On or
about August 18, 2015, the Impact Team made good on its
promise, dumping 9.7 gigabytes worth of stolen and
highly-sensitive personal and financial data - including user
identity information and their sexual fantasies and
preferences - belonging to the website's some 37 million
users. Reportedly, among the "dumped" data was data
of individuals who paid a fee of $19 to have
AshleyMadison.com scrub their profiles from the
site, but whose profiles had apparently not been
scrubbed. Needless to say, this dumping of sensitive
personal and financial information is bound to have
catastrophic effects on the lives of the website's users.
Court has subject-matter jurisdiction pursuant to the Class
Action Fairness Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(2). In the
aggregate, Plaintiffs claims and the claims of the other
members of the Class exceed $5, 000, 000 exclusive of
interest and costs, and the class members are citizens of a
state other than Defendants' state or country of
citizenship, which is Ontario, Canada. This Court may also
exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claims
Court has personal jurisdiction over Defendants because
a. intentionally avail themselves of this jurisdiction by
marketing its website to millions of consumers nationwide,
including residents throughout California and this District;
b. have directed tortious acts toward individuals residing
within this District, and have committed tortious acts that
they know or should have known would cause injury to
Plaintiff and Class Members in this District.
Venue lies within this District under 28 U.S.C. §
1391(b)-(c) because: (a) Defendants regularly transact
business within this District; (b) certain acts giving rise
to the claims asserted in this Complaint occurred in this
District; and (c) the actions of Defendants alleged in this
Complaint caused damages to Plaintiff and a substantial
number of Class Members within this District.
Plaintiff is a male who resides in Los Angeles, California.
Plaintiff created an account with Ashley Madison in March
Defendant Avid Life Media, Inc. is a corporation organized
and existing under the laws of Ontario, Canada, with its
principal place of business and headquarters in Toronto,
Canada. The corporation owns various companies that are in
business of operating online dating websites.
Defendant Avid Dating Life, Inc. d/b/a Ashley Madison is a
corporation organized and existing under the laws of Ontario,
Canada, with its principal place of business in Toronto,
Canada, and is regularly engaged in the business of operating
online dating websites, including Ashley Madi son. com.
COMMON TO ALL COUNTS
Defendants and their Business
AshleyMadision.com is a dating website marketed to
people who are married or are in committed relationships
seeking to engage in adulterous behavior.
AshleyMadison.com is owned by Avid Life Media, a
privately-held Canadian corporation founded by its CEO Noel
Biderman, which owns various companies that are in business
of operating online dating websites, including
CougarLife.com and EstablishedMen.com.
Defendants market AshleyMadision.com to consumers in
the United States as well as outside the United States. The
website has more than 37 million users in 46 countries. It is
rated the twentieth most popular adult website in the United
States. Defendants market the website through television,
radio, billboard, and internet advertisements, many of which
include its founder and CEO Noel Biderman as the
website's business model is based on credits, which users
purchase, as opposed to paid subscriptions. In order to
initiate a conversation with another user, one must
"pay" five credits. Users buy credits from the
website and enter their credit or debit card information in
order to pay for the credits.
website also offers to "scrub" - or delete - user
profiles along with all personal information from the website
for a $19 charge.
Personal Information of Its Users in an Unencrypted Format at
the Database Level
order to create an account on AshleyMadision.com,
users are required to select a username and password,
personalize a "greeting, " indicate their location
(by country), zip code, date of birth, type of affair sought
- the options provided are short term, long term, cyber
affair/erotic chat, or other - height, weight, body type,
ethnicity and email.
Below the box where users are asked to enter their
"email, " the website promises: "This email
will never be shown or shared." 13. The website also
asks each user to upload a "discrete photo" and
offers options of either placing a mask over the user's
eyes on the photo or blurring the photo.
the "Manage Profile" section, users may enter
information relating to "My Intimate Desires"
"My Perfect Match" and "My Personal Interests,
" among other information.
Upon information and belief, Defendants store the users'
personal information they collect in an unencrypted format at
the database level. Despite these security threats that may
have even been internally discovered by Defendants'
internal officers or directors, Defendants published on the
internet a statement calling itself "the last truly
secure space on the Internet."
Plaintiffs Creation of a AshleyMadison.com
Account and Security Breach
or about March 2012, Plaintiff created an account with
AshleyMadison.com. As part of the process of
creating his account, Plaintiff created a username and
password and entered his personal information into the
website's system, including photographs. Plaintiff
subsequently purchased credits and communicated with other
members on the website.
a result of Defendants' failure to maintain adequate and
reasonable security measures to secure the data of the
website's users from being compromised, on or about July
20, 2015, Impact Team, a group of hackers, downloaded
highly-sensitive personal, financial, and identifying
information of the website's some 37 million users.
information and belief, among the data compromised and
downloaded were profiles of individuals who executed the
option to scrub their user profiles and all associated data
and paid $19 to Defendants to do so, yet Defendants failed to
actually scrub the data.
Following the breach and downloading of users' personal
and financial information, Impact Team threatened that if
Avid Life Media did not shut down the website permanently,
they would leak the information on the Internet. Avid Life
Media refused to shut down the website, and on or about
August 18, 2015, Impact Team, in keeping with its threat,
published some 9.7 gigabytes of stolen personal information
of the website users on the Internet.
This massive data breach could have been prevented had
Defendants taken the necessary and reasonable precautions to
protect its users' information by, for example,
encrypting the data entrusted to it by its users on a
database level so that any information hacked and downloaded
appeared in the encrypted format. Defendants were aware or
should have been aware of the need to secure users'
information, especially in light of the recent rise of
massive security breaches on the Internet and the fact that
the information contained on its servers is particularly
Defendant failed to notify Plaintiff and Class Members of the
breach in a timely manner after learning of the breach and
failed to take reasonable steps to inform Plaintiff and Class
Members of the extent of the breach.
Plaintiffs account and personal information is among the
information that was compromised in the breach and made
public on the Internet.
The Data Breach Harmed Plaintiff and Class
a result of Defendants' unfair, unreasonable, and
inadequate data security, its users' extremely personal
and embarrassing information is now accessible to the public.
In addition to the embarrassing information regarding
users' sexual interests or the fact that users were
seeking or had affairs, users' addresses, phone numbers,
email addresses, credit card or other payment information,
and/or birth dates, and photos are also now available on the
World Wide Web. For many of the website's users, the
publicity of this information has created and will continue
to create irreparable harm.
Plaintiff brings this action on behalf of himself and all
others similarly situated as a class action pursuant to
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 23, and seeks to
represent the following National Class and California
Subclass (collectively, "Class")
Class: All individuals in the United States who created
an account(s) on AshleyMadison.comand whose information was ...