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Woman Gets $2 Million in Matchmaker Lawsuit

She paid $125,000 to a Beverly Hills Firm But She Didn't Get Any Help
Story Courtes of The Los Angeles Times
By Jessica Garrison

May 31, 2006

Single people everywhere dream of a match made in heaven.

Anne Majerik dreame only of a match made in Beverly Hills. But when her high-priced matchmaker disappointed her, she sued. And on Tuesday, a jury awarded her $2.1 million.

Majerik, who paid $125,000 to Beverly Hills matchmaker Orly Hadida, said she was promised time with "a cultured gentleman" and his "estate of up to $20 million." She said all she got were a few introductions to some inappropriate men.

Orly, an Israeli beauty pageant winner who goes by her first name, told a far different story.

She and her lawyer alleged that Majerik is a serial suer of matchmakers and that the widow used her and the men Hadida set her up with, enjoyed herself and then claimed that she had been "psychologically damaged by the process" and demanded compensation.

As matchmaking websites become more popular, unhappy suitors have filed lawsuits, such as one last year against Match.com alleging that the company tricked people into renewing their membership by sending them fraudulent romantic e-mails. Match.com denies wrongdoing.

The dispute that played out in a Los Angeles civil courtroom last week was much different.

On her website, Orly justifies fees that can run as high as $200,000 by saying she has "set the standard in professional matchmaking for the past 25 years" and that her clients include "the elite, wealthy, famous and professional … scattered around the globe."

But Orly has been sued several times by disgruntled clients — and her own divorce made headlines in the 1980s after she was accused of kidnapping her children from her ex-husband, who she claimed was molesting them. She was acquitted.

She also was charged with burning down the Palm Springs house she and her husband shared. The charges were dismissed.

Majerik, 60, a social worker who lives in Erie, Pa., signed up for Orly's service in December 2002. Her lawsuit claims she paid an initial fee of $50,000 for which she was led to believe she would receive "three years of introductions" to "extremely successful and highly educated, charismatic, kind, down-to-earth romantics who enjoy a life of fine dining, traveling and leisure." She was also told that these men were "focused on having a monogamous relationship" and "earn way above $1 million per year and have an estate of up to $20 million."

In an interview, Majerik, a grandmother whose husband died of a heart attack in 1999, said she was "looking for an efficient manner in which to meet people, pre-screened."

But she said she quickly became put off by the men Orly was finding for her.

The matchmaker's "international banker," for example, turned out to be "an interpreter that worked in a bank," according to the suit.

When she went to Orly, the matchmaker told her she should pay $25,000 more for consulting services on how to present herself. On May 20, 2003, Majerik paid the fee. And on Aug. 5, she paid $50,000 to upgrade to the "money-back-guaranteed Billionaire Search with international men having estates worth up to $50 million," the suit says.

Majerik's lawyer, Douglas Gilliland, said he knew some might find that puzzling. But he said those not in his client's position would also find it "hard to understand the loneliness that befalls" older widows.

Despite the additional payments, Majerik's suit claims she still received no appropriate introductions. And by early 2004, Orly had stopped returning her phone calls. Later that year, Majerik sued.

Orly countersued, seeking "not less than" $700,000 from Majerik.

"The lady is a serial matchmaker suer," said Sandra Cannon, Orly's attorney. She added that Orly plans to appeal.

In her countersuit, Orly claimed the widow came to her after becoming embroiled in a legal dispute with another matchmaker, San Diego-based Valenti International. After helping Majerik prevail in that lawsuit, Orly said, she took on Majerik as a client — and Majerik gave her "enthusiastic feedback about nearly every man to whom Orly had introduced her," the countersuit said.

But Majerik was far from a perfect date herself. According to Orly's suit: "While priding herself on being a good listener, [Majerik] would often make impolite, rude and disrespectful inquiries to these men regarding their income, wealth and finances."

The jury didn't buy it. Jurors said they were disturbed to hear testimony that Orly doesn't have bank accounts or keep good financial records. But they were not totally sympathetic to Majerik either.

As they left, several jurors said they had one regret: They wanted to award up to $20 million — but have the money go to charity. The judge said they couldn't do that.

"We wanted to punish the defendant, but in the amount we wanted to punish the defendant, we didn't want to reward the plaintiff," said foreman Christie Troutt. "They were both wrong."

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