Jury awards $434,000 to woman who met husband online
BALTIMORE (AP) — A federal jury Thursday awarded a woman $434,000 in damages after she sued an Internet matchmaking service that introduced her to her abusive husband.
In what was described as the first lawsuit of its kind in the country, Nataliya Fox of Loundon County, Va., sued Encounters International of Bethesda, alleging fraud and negligence.
The Ukrainian woman met James Fox through the international matchmaking agency. They married in November 1998, less than three months after they met. He was 34; she was 27.
Nataliya Fox said her husband had beaten her and that the owner of Encounters International told her she would be deported if she left the marriage.
In July 2000, she moved into a shelter for battered women, Nataliya Fox said.
Paul Zukerberg, attorney for Encounters International and its owner, said he will ask that the award be reduced. Of the company's owner, Natasha Spivack, he said: "She's extremely disappointed at the result. She doesn't believe it was justified."
Spivack had testified that Fox made up the story to get a U.S. visa. She said she had only introduced two adults and could not be held responsible for what happened.
The jury awarded monetary damages for specific counts of the lawsuit. Nataliya Fox's lawyers said that they calculated the total award at $434,000. But Zukerberg said the total may be lower.
James Fox was not a defendant at the trial because of an earlier settlement, in which Nataliya Fox received $115,000. During the trial, he testified that he had never abused Nataliya, whom he described as "nutty" and "a fruitcake."
It wasn't until July 2000, after her husband started a two-hour beating while she was breast-feeding their baby, that Nataliya Fox said she went to the hospital.
Hospital workers testified that they found her face bruised and her chest bones broken. After Fox and her baby went to a women's shelter, James Fox flew to Haiti and got a quick divorce, according to testimony in the civil trial.
James Fox testified during the recent trial that he did not beat his wife. He was charged criminally in Virginia, but his record was expunged after he completed a class for batterers, according to court records.
The Encounters International Web site boasts 257 married couples, 103 babies and 19 current engagements.
Hmmm...so it was on grounds that the company "threatened" that she be deported?
WTF? He record is expunged after he takes a class for batterers? Is this a common thing to do. I know there are some for speeding or something but I would think for spousal abuse that it should be noted and not expunged. Bah.