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October 12, 2005 11:00pm
Cruising for Sex Sues PayPal Over Closed Hurricane Relief Account
Source: BSG PR
by: Company Press Release

(NEW ORLEANS, LA) -- CFS.com, LLC, the parent company of free gay cruising Web site Cruising for Sex, is taking PayPal, Inc to court to force the permanent restoration of an account designated for the assistance of 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 their use of PayPal to raise funds for employees affected by Hurricane Katrina was not in violation of the terms of use agreement, and seeks an injunction forcing PayPal to restore the account immediately.

In addition, the suit seeks unspecified damages from PayPal, Inc for breach of contract and for emotional distress after the online pay-processing giant shut down the account designated for hurricane relief funds.

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 the Katrina hitting landfall, but are currently struggling to assist their families, most of whom have lost their homes and their jobs.

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

After learning of the plight of his employees, Cruising for sex founder Keith Griffith, who also lives in New Orleans, started a fund for their relief and established 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 said.

On September 5, four days after launching his employees' relief fund, Griffith was informed via email that the PayPal account was being shut down because it was "violating PayPal's Acceptable Use Policy regarding Mature Audiences."

PayPal's mature audience policy prohibits accepting donations for any obscene or sexually oriented goods or services. However, Griffith notes nothing excludes an adult Web site 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 said.

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 ever since.

Cruising for sex is an award-winning Web site currently celebrating its ten-year anniversary. The site's primary audience is gay and bisexual men seeking sexual encounters.

Cruising for sex doesn't solicit donations for site maintenance. While the information on the site is entirely free, ad revenue, video sales, and memberships to CFS.com owned and operated pay- sites support the entire enterprise.

"We are not asking they bend the rules for us. 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," Griffith said.

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, stating, "PayPal's position is not just morally reprehensible, it is also legally unjustifiable. 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. 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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