Blatt’s suit was first filed in a California court in August. An amended version of the suit, filed on Thursday, included claims that Rad allegedly offered to pay Pambakian “millions of dollars” to make “false allegations of sexual harassment against Blatt” in a “brazen attempt to gain publicity” in a separate financial lawsuit.
On Monday, after this article was originally published, lawyers for Blatt filed to take his complaint against Pambakian into private arbitration because, they argue, certain employment-related claims filed by Pambakian against Blatt are already in arbitration. The lawyers for Pambakian and Rad sharply criticized that move. In a motion to dismiss Blatt’s defamation suit, also filed on Monday, lawyers for Pambakian and Rad called Blatt’s team’s decision to file suit and then move to go to arbitration an “abuse of the court system” and “a shameful effort to stage a public smear campaign against a sexual assault accuser under cover of a court proceeding.”
According to Blatt’s lawsuit, Pambakian and Blatt engaged in “irreverent and, at times, ribald and suggestive conversation” with “both laughing throughout” at the holiday party. The lawsuit alleges that Pambakian suggested that Blatt and two other Tinder employees at the holiday party go to a hotel room and order room service. Blatt claims he did not go immediately but texted one of the those two employees for the room number and eventually joined.
“For a brief period, Blatt’s and Pambakian’s fully-clothed bodies were in contact, and Blatt and Pambakian kissed. The interaction was consensual. Room service was then delivered,” the suit reads. “Soon after eating, Blatt departed. While in the hotel room, Blatt and Pambakian were fully clothed at all times. After that evening, Pambakian and Blatt never engaged in any further physical encounters.”
Pambakian didn’t report the incident directly to the company, Blatt’s suit claims. Instead, it was Sean Rad who reported the incident six months later in an alleged attempt to remove Blatt in his pursuit of fetching a higher valuation for Tinder, according to the suit.
The fight over Tinder’s valuation
Due to an arbitration agreement, Pambakian dropped her claims from that suit shortly after it was filed, bringing her own lawsuit against Blatt and IAC over the handling of her claims and her alleged wrongful termination after the Rad lawsuit was filed. The case in ongoing.
The alleged payments to Pambakian for participating in the valuation lawsuit, which are now at the center of Blatt’s lawsuit, were first mentioned last month in a filing in the ongoing legal battle between IAC, Match Group and Sean Rad.
Rad allegedly offered the payment “under the guise of a litigation funding agreement,” but Pambakian would cash in regardless of whether the lawsuit was successful, or if she dropped out of the suit, according to Blatt’s filing.
“That is false,” Orin Snyder, a partner at Gibson Dunn who is representing the valuation lawsuit as well as Pambakian and Rad in the Blatt defamation suit, said in a statement to CNN Business about the financing. “There were no upfront payments promised for joining the lawsuit. The only payments were triggered by IAC/Match retaliating against plaintiffs by stripping away their hard-earned equity.”
Snyder added that the allegations are attempts to “smear a victim of sexual assault and the person who reported it.”
Allegations of false accusations
In his suit, Blatt alleges that Rad, internally, made a false accusation of the alleged sexual assault incident without Pambakian’s support, and she was ultimately convinced by Rad to join his valuation suit and bring her claims against Blatt. The complaint describes a “close professional and personal relationship both before and after the holiday party” between Blatt and Pambakian, citing messages sent by Pambakian to or about Blatt in the complaint.
Blatt, who worked at Match Group and IAC in various executive roles for roughly 14 years before resigning as chairman and CEO of Match Group as well as CEO of Tinder in 2017, is seeking a minimum of $50 million in damages in his defamation suit.