Lawsuit filed against dating app in connection with grisly slaying of Bakersfield attorney

Crime Watch

Nicholas Quintana covers his face during a court appearance in 2018.

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed against the parent company of a dating app in connection with the gruesome killing of an attorney who met his alleged killer on the app in 2017.

Filed last month by the mother of attorney Marcos Vargas, the suit alleges operators of the MeetMe app, despite their advertising and claims to the public, failed to properly screen users.

“Defendants breached their duty of care by failing to take reasonable steps to ensure the reasonable safety of its users including decedent Marcos Vargas and prevent him from being violently attacked and brutally mutilated and murdered on or around Nov. 29, 2017,” according to the suit.

Had Vargas, 26, known the true risks and dangers of the app, the suit says, he never would have used it to reach out to Nicholas Quintana, who had pending assault and child cruelty charges at the time the two met online.

“Defendants had reason to know that failing to conduct reasonable background checks into users would make occurrence of violent, dangerous acts against other users more likely,” the suit says. “Defendants were reckless and careless by failing to screen for more than sex offenders.”

The lawsuit seeks damages in an amount to be determined at trial. In addition to wrongful death, other causes of action listed in the suit are negligence, personal injury, survivor action, false advertising and fraud.

The Vargas suit is one of a number of legal actions taken against The Meet Group — the app’s parent company — in connection with its screening process.

The company is the subject of lawsuits “for allegedly enabling sexual predators to target minors,” according to The Washington Post.

MeetMe says on its website, “We screen new registrants against databases of known sex offenders in the U.S. and regularly re-screen active users against these same lists, blocking registrations and activity from known sex offenders.”

The Post, however, reported a convicted sex offender became one of the app’s VIP users. In a separate case, The Meet Group settled a lawsuit brought by a San Francisco attorney who said dozens of children have been victimized by sexual predators they first met on MeetMe, the paper reported.

Police say Vargas invited Quintana to his apartment at Golden Valley Luxury Apartments on Hosking Avenue after meeting him through the app.

Once there, Quintana repeatedly stabbed Vargas, inflicting wounds a pathologist characterized as three distinct attempts to decapitate the attorney, court documents said. Quintana then stole items including a cellphone and traveled from Bakersfield to Long Beach.

He was arrested months later and charged with murder.

Quintana, 21, is due in court Tuesday for a hearing to see if attorneys are ready to proceed with trial next month.

The next hearing in the lawsuit is scheduled for June 1, 2020.

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