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CruisingForSex.com Sues PayPal

CruisingForSex.com Sues PayPal

CFS.com LLC, the parent company of free gay cruising website CruisingForSex.com, is taking PayPal to court. The company hopes to force the online payment giant to restore an account designated to assist CFS.com employees affected by Hurricane Katrina.

CFS.com, which operates out of New York and New Orleans, is seeking a declaratory judgment to establish that its use of PayPal was not in violation of PayPal’s terms of use. CFS.com also seeks an injunction forcing PayPal to restore the account immediately. PayPal, an eBay company, regularly suspends accounts used for adult industry-related commerce.

The suit also seeks unspecified damages from PayPal for breach of contract and for emotional distress.

Cruising for Sex employs two people in the New Orleans area, Troy, who oversees the company’s servers, and Dorian-Gray Alexander, who fulfills video orders and sells ad space. Both men evacuated the region prior to Katrina making landfall, but are currently struggling to assist their families, most of whom have lost their homes and jobs.

Alexander is a co-plaintiff in the suit against PayPal.

Cruising for Sex founder, Keith Griffith, who also lives in New Orleans, says he started the fund for their relief and established a PayPal account to facilitate donations from site users.

“It made sense that the men who have enjoyed our site for years – for free – might want to now contribute to help the men who had made all this possible for so many years,” Griffith says.

On Sept. 5, four days after launching the relief fund, Griffith was informed via email that the PayPal account was being shut down because it violated PayPal’s acceptable use policy regarding mature audiences. PayPal’s mature audience policy prohibits accepting donations for any sexually oriented goods or services. Griffith noted that nothing precludes an adult website from using PayPal for other purposes—such as raising money for victims of Katrina.

“We weren’t using PayPal to sell dildos, porn, etc. The only use of PayPal on our site was in an attempt to raise donations to pay mortgages, buy gas, pay cell phone bills, and help these people and their families get back up on their feet,” Griffith says.

At one point, in the face of increasing media attention, PayPal restored the account in question only to suspend it for a second time within a matter of days. The account has remained closed since.

“We are not asking [that] they bend the rules for us,” Griffith says. “We are asking that they enforce their own terms of use. There is nothing in their terms of use that forbids an adult website to use PayPal. It specifically bars the use of PayPal to purchase products or services that are adult in nature, but that is not what we were using that account for.”

Attorney Mark Forster, who is representing CFS.com and Alexander pro bono, argues that it’s PayPal, and not his clients, violating the payment processing site’s terms of service. “PayPal’s position is not just morally reprehensible, it is also legally unjustifiable,” Forster says. “The PayPal terms of use with CFS.com only prohibit use of PayPal for receipt of donations for any obscene or sexually oriented goods or services. Obviously, the fact that CFS.com is accepting donations to assist its people in New Orleans affected by Hurricane Katrina doesn’t come close to that description.

“We exhausted every effort, but PayPal was absolutely impervious, tone-deaf, and resistant to logic,” he continues. “The simple truth of the matter is that they have refused to abide by their own terms of use, leaving my clients no choice but to file this lawsuit.”

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