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May 2019 - Search and You Shall Find

by Richard W. Millar, Jr.

What did we do before the internet besides die of boredom? I am not sure I could have written my series of columns then because it would have taken too long to research them. I have no idea how many companies now provide background searches for which we used to hire private investigators, but the answer must be a lot.

One such site is Persopo.com, which claims it can provide arrest records, marriage records, contact information, and—the kicker—“much more.” I have not used it, and neither endorse nor condemn it. I’d never heard of it before and only mention it because it got sued.

A fellow named Frank, whose last name I will omit as he has probably already received more notoriety than he needs or wants, suspected his wife Mary was cheating on him.

Frank and Mary had a thirteen-year marriage with its “ups and downs,” as Frank reputedly said, but she had taken to being gone long periods of time, both night and day, without answering her phone and providing sketchy excuses. She also developed a new interest in fitness. I am not sure whether it was the long, unexplained absences that bothered Frank or her sudden interest in fitness, but he decided to hit the internet and, specifically, Persopo.

And, find things he did.

Persopo, it seems, not only looks up the stuff it advertises, it actually does provide “much more.” It reviews social media and other online activity.

It turns out, Mary had been registered, if that’s the right word, on Match.com on which she described her relationship status as “never married.” If that was not enough of a clue, she also had an account with her email address on Cheatingwives.com. (I looked it up and, no surprise, there is such a site that says it is: “Where lonely wives come to play.”)

At this point, Frank confronted Mary. I am guessing here, but since it would be hard to come up with a convincing explanation as to why she would be registered on Cheatingwives.com, Mary confessed and allowed as how she had slept with at least four other men during the last year.

His worst fears realized, Frank filed for divorce.

I am sure you are saying “no surprise there” and wondering why I even bothered with this column as infidelity does not rank as uncommon. But, if you have read my musings, you know there is something more.

And, you would be spot on.

There was a second lawsuit following the divorce and that is what caught my degenerate attention.

Mary sued.

She didn’t sue Frank; she sued Persopo. Not because it got things wrong, but because it got things right.

That is correct. She doesn’t claim defamation or “fake news.” She claims, and I am not making this up, that the site revealed private information and ruined her life.

She probably had a hard time finding a lawyer once the Cheatingwives.com came out, but, undeterred, she is in pro per. Even so, she seems to have a good handle on the life-ruining damages she suffered:

She sued in small claims court seeking $700.

Richard W. Millar, Jr. is Of Counsel with the firm of Friedman Stroffe & Gerard in Irvine. He can be reached at rmillar@fsglawyers.com.