It’s Just Lunch International, a matchmaking and dating service for single professionals, is facing a nationwide class-action lawsuit filed by clients who claimed they were defrauded into paying for its services.
U.S. District Judge Sidney Stein in Manhattan said the plaintiffs had enough in common to pursue their fraud claims as a group. He also said a group of New York plaintiffs could pursue claims under that state’s law alleging deceptive business practices and unjust enrichment.
The complaint accused It’s Just Lunch of falsely promising clients, including many affluent and highly educated women, that its staff would “hand select” appropriate matches for dates. It also said the company would charge $1,000 or more per person per year for services it did not deliver. Judge Stein wrote that: “In short, virtually all evidence in the record indicates that during the period at issue, IJL staff relied on a uniform script to inform prospective customers during initial interviews that IJL already had at least two matches in mind for those customers’ first dates regardless of whether or not that was true.” The fraud case will “substantially rise or fall” on whether this script was materially misleading, he added.
Stein refused to certify a nationwide class alleging unjust enrichment, citing too many differences in state laws. The class period runs from October 15, 2001 to the present.
According to its website, It’s Just Lunch was founded in 1991, has “matched” tens of thousands of single professionals, and has arranged more than 2 million first dates. The company said the process involves an initial client interview; the selection of a potential partner based on a client’s desires, goals and motivations; and the arranging of lunch at a restaurant, an after-work drink or a weekend brunch.
It’s Just Lunch is based in San Diego, but said it operates in most U.S. states and Washington, D.C, as well as in Canada, Great Britain, Ireland, Australia, and Singapore. The company has trademarked the phrase “Dating for Busy Professionals,” federal records show.
The case is Rodriguez et al v. It’s Just Lunch International et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 07-09227.