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California judge dismisses one of ‘Are We Dating the Same Guy?’ lawsuits

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A California judge on Monday dismissed one of many cases brought forth by a man who is suing dozens of women for sharing stories about him in multiple private Facebook groups, including offshoots of the viral “Are We Dating the Same Guy?” group.

Stewart Lucas Murrey is suing more than 50 women — nine of whom he names in his complaint — saying they “conspired to harm [his] reputation and violate his right to free speech based upon his sex and other discriminatory elements,” according to court documents reviewed by NBC News. 

In his initial complaint, filed in June 2023, Murrey states that much of his “emotional distress” was due to posts made in several “Are We Dating the Same Guy?” groups local to Los Angeles and Orange County. These are part of a network of more than 150 private Facebook groups where women post about men they’re seeking to vet with help from others who may have dated the same person.

On Monday, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Gregory Keosian granted one defendant, Vanessa Valdes, an anti-SLAPP motion, a common legal mechanism for dismissing “strategic lawsuits against public participation,” or lawsuits determined to chill the exercise of free expression.

“While I am grateful for this outcome, I want to highlight that there are still other defendants continuing to fight this battle,” Valdes wrote in an email statement to NBC News. “I want to make it clear that I do not condone retaliation against the plaintiff; the courts will continue to do its intended work. It is my sincere hope that baseless lawsuits like this do not happen to others in the future.”

Murrey did not send a statement by the time of the article’s publication.

In a statement posted Monday to his personal website, Murrey said the judge’s ruling was based “only on portions of Valdes’s statements” about him. 

While Murrey said he’s never met Valdes in person (which she had also previously stated), he alleged she “participated in an online group that sought to harass, dox, gang-stalk and cyberbully” him.

“This behavior should not be normalized and I am challenging every person in their various roles,” he wrote, later adding that “this is a situation that is bigger than mere libel. We face a threat to privacy and I am prepared for the long fight ahead.”

His statement echoes his November 2023 amended complaint, which claimed “this large-scale conspiracy to create a fake online social consensus had and continues to have real consequences.” 

Murrey alleges that the women’s comments caused “severe damage” to his personal relationships and dating life, and that “he has lost all privacy.” 

Facebook and the Facebook groups “refused to respond whatsoever” so Murrey “had no option but to file police reports against defendants,” according to the complaint. More than 400 “severely harmful comments have been taken down within said Facebook groups,” the complaint states.

A spokesperson for Meta, which owns Facebook, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

In recent years, the “Are We Dating the Same Guy?” Facebook groups — which say they aim to “warn other women about liars, cheaters, abusers, or anyone who exhibits any type of toxic or dangerous behavior” —  have gained rapid traction across the country. 

But some group members have become embroiled in defamation-related lawsuits brought forth in various states by men who have been the subject of these conversations.

In January, an Illinois judge dismissed a separate lawsuit against 27 women regarding their posts in a Chicago “Are We Dating the Same Guy?” Facebook group. The plaintiff refiled a class-action complaint the same day.

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