When Mary Kay Beckman was ambushed in the garage of her Las Vegas home in January 2011, it made national headlines. That was partly because of the brutality of the attack. The attacker "knocked her to the ground, and began stabbing her repeatedly until he recognized that the knife broke," according to a police report. "Then he continued by stomping her head and neck, until she [stopped] making the gurgling noise." But it also made news because the two met on Dallas-based Match.com.
The man, Wade Mitchell Ridley, had met Beckman on the dating site a few months before. When she broke off the relationship 10 days after their first date, he became enraged, then homicidal. Police believe he murdered another ex-girlfriend in Phoenix with a machete and butcher's knife a few days before traveling to Vegas to camp out Beckman's garage.
Beckman, who has undergone multiple surgeries to repair her jaw, preserve her eyesight and hearing, and replace part of her skull with synthetic material, managed to survive. Ridley, who pleaded guilty to attempted murder, died in prison last year. As for Match.com, they're now the defendant in a $10 million lawsuit.
The suit, filed in Clark County, Nevada by Beckman and first reported by Courthouse News, says that the site was negligent and failed to warn her of the dangers of meeting "an individual whose intentions are not to find a mate, but to find victims to kill or rape."
This isn't the first time Match.com has been sued by patrons who have had less-than-stellar experiences on the site. The company settled a previous lawsuit brought by a woman who was sexually assaulted on a date with a man who, unbeknownst to her, had previously been convicted of sexual battery. That led the site to begin screening its members for sexual predators, according to the Huffington Post.
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It's not clear from news reports whether Ridley had a violent criminal history. It's also not clear if dating websites are liable for dates gone horribly wrong. (A post on a New York Law School blog suggests that they aren't.) That question will only be resolved if the case goes to trial, which, judging from Match.com's settlement of the aforementioned lawsuit, probably won't happen.