Ashley Madison Plaintiffs ‘Can’t Sue Anonymously’, Judge Rules

Family Law Experts Say Cyber-Attack Fall-Out Will Continue


Kate Rawlings, Press Officer | 0114 274 4238

Specialist divorce lawyers say a case involving the Ashley Madison affair website hack in the USA could have implications in the UK after a judge ruled that plaintiffs taking legal action against the site must publicly identify themselves to proceed with the case.

Forty-two plaintiffs, seeking to represent users of the website who had their information compromised, had proceeded anonymously against the site’s Toronto-based parent company Avid Life Media, the ruling released on 6 April revealed.

According to the ruling, the victims are suing the company which facilitates extramarital affairs, for failing to adequately secure their information, marketing a “full delete removal” service that did not work, and using fake female accounts to lure male customers.

The legal action was sparked after hackers, who disagreed with the moral and ethics surrounding Avid Life’s business practices, exposed Ashley Madison customer data last August.

In his ruling, Judge John A Ross, of a district court in Missouri, acknowledged that being publicly named as an Ashley Madison user amounted to more than common embarrassment.

He explained that the 42 plaintiffs are “class representatives” who have special roles in the case requiring identification, who may need to testify or offer evidence, unlike “class members”, who do not need to participate as actively.

He ruled that the plaintiffs must either identify themselves or proceed as class members, who can remain anonymous.

There are at least 10 plaintiffs who are publicly named.

Media reported that Avid Media did not immediately respond to a request for comment.