Before the Internet romance lawsuit, there was cyberdating
A woman from Michigan, and a man from Washington State met online through Facebook before starting a cyber relationship that would end in an Internet romance lawsuit.
The couple’s interest in the Facebook game Mafia Wars initiated the relationship, but as the woman sent presents and flowers to the man the relationship seemed, at least to her, to consist of more than just internet activities. Despite intimate behavior online and the exchange of gifts in real life, the couple has never met outside of the internet during their six month relationship. However, to those involved, and to those observing, this brief relationship has spawned new thinking about what a relationship consists of, and whether or not online activities are sufficiently connected to real life to justify an Internet romance lawsuit.
What went wrong with the relationship that led to an Internet romance lawsuit?
Convinced about the authenticity of their relationship, the woman purchased plane tickets with the intention of flying to Washington to visit her cyberspace “boyfriend” in real life. However, when man announced that he was seeing someone new, and that he did not want to visit with her in real life, the woman became furious.
Upon hearing about the new relationship with another, the woman filed an Internet romance lawsuit to recover the expenses she had lost as a result of purchasing gifts and the plane tickets to visit him. That lawsuit, however, was dropped by the woman who decided she should instead file a second Internet lawsuit against the man for an astounding $8,368.88. Provoking controversy for the sheer audacity of suing an online boyfriend for the recovery of damages for gifts she had willingly purchased on her own, legal commentators, dating analysts, Facebook enthusiasts, and others have all weighted in to the validity of suits of this kind.
What will likely happen with a Internet romance lawsuit of this kind?
Many legal experts expect that the woman will be unable to recover for the lost funds she spent under the assumption of dating that occurred only in cyberspace. Typically, giving someone a gift does not constitute a contract or anything less than a simple transfer of property. The woman will also face difficulty in proving that man owes her money for a flight she purchased for her own personal use. Perhaps had the money spent on the man been done in a way which seemed less like gift giving, and more like negotiated agreements, the woman would have a better chance at arguing her case.
Additionally, the woman claims that man posted defamatory messages on her internet site after the breakup. For this, she is claiming she deserves damages for emotional distress and for defamation from him. Again, the woman might face difficulty in proving this claim, but the Internet romance lawsuit does shed light onto the potential cyberdating legal issues thereupon could pose for the future.