A dating site for “men and women in uniform” thought they found the perfect user profile to make the poster boy for their social media campaign: a smiling, single, handsome man dressed in police attire.
But the man in the picture is a married officer and father, who insists he never made an account with the site, Uniformdating.com, and is accusing them of stealing the picture from his Facebook page.
David Guzman, who works for the Golden Beach Police Department in Miami-Dade County, filed a lawsuit in May in the Southern District of Florida against NSI Holdings Limited, the British company which owns the site.
Uniform Dating ran the ad in question using a picture of Guzman that identifies him as “Jason,” who is single. Guzman said in his complaint he was shocked to see the ad and only learned of when multiple friends saw it and reached out.
Guzman says he never used the site, and posted the photo which Uniform Dating used to his private Facebook page in April 2018.
NSI Holdings “scraped” the photo from the police officer’s Facebook and used it in Facebook and Instagram advertisements, which he “never consented to, permitted, assigned, licensed, or otherwise agreed to Defendant’s use of his image,” according to the suit.
When Guzman asked NSI Holdings to stop using his image, the company first asked him to prove his identity. When he did, NSI Holdings continued using the image anyway, the complaint alleges.
But the parent company of Uniform Dating tells a different tale.
In their motion to dismiss the suit, NSI Holdings says they took the image from a profile on their site, which they had permission to use.
“The facts and evidence available to it indicate that Plaintiff himself — or at the very least, someone who knows Plaintiff’s personal identifying information — was the individual who created the profile at issue,” they wrote in their August response to the suit.
NSI Holdings said there was a profile on the site with Guzman’s image, birth date, and personal email address, which they’ve verified to be accurate, but did not say when the profile was created.
The profile was only used once, which NSI Holdings says “suggests a momentary dalliance” on Guzman’s part. The company also says it’s possible an enemy of Guzman created the account, but added that the Florida officer “presented no facts or evidence that would rebut the presumption that Plaintiff himself created the profile.”
The company also says they stopped using Guzman’s photo for Uniform Dating ads “within days” of his complaint.
NSI Holdings maintain they didn’t break the law. The company says it has permission to use any photo someone uploads to their site in advertisements, a clear part of their terms and conditions.
Guzman is seeking statutory damages, actual and punitive damages, costs, interest, and restitution from NSI Holdings for the use of the photograph.