In the latest legal battle involving Netflix’s reality dating show Love Is Blind, contestant Renee Poche has filed a lawsuit against the streaming giant, claiming intentional infliction of emotional distress and violations of California labor codes and civic codes. This marks the second legal challenge stemming from the Houston season, as Poche seeks to nullify her non-disclosure agreement (NDA) and expose alleged mistreatment during the production of the popular series.
Poche, an Austin native, asserts that contestants underwent extensive screenings, rigorous background checks, psychological examinations, and compatibility assessments. The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles superior court in early January, is represented by high-profile attorneys Bryan Freedman and Mark Geragos, known for their work with reality TV stars in preventing exploitation. Poche’s legal team contends that her NDA is “illegal and unenforceable.”
Following the airing of Love Is Blind Season 5 in the fall of 2023, Poche publicly discussed her experience on the show and her unsuccessful match with fellow contestant Carter Wall. She described Wall in court documents as abusive, violent, and emotionally unstable, prompting Netflix and production company Delirium to take her to private arbitration in November 2023. The streaming giant and Delirium sought $4 million in penalties for violating the NDA.
Freedman, Poche’s attorney, issued a statement to Variety, indicating that more lawsuits against production companies are likely to emerge. He stated, “These so-called reality TV contracts are, in reality, illegal. They are designed for an illegal purpose and are void as a matter of law. We have hundreds of clients who are ready to assert their claims.”
Notably, Poche’s lawsuit is the first instance of a reality TV contestant challenging the legality of non-disclosure agreements, potentially setting a precedent for the industry. Variety suggests that the lawsuit could have far-reaching implications for the future of reality television.
This legal battle comes in the wake of previous lawsuits involving Love Is Blind contestants. In August, contestant Tran Dang sued Delirium and Netflix, alleging sexual assault by her match, Thomas Smith, during filming in Mexico. Similarly, Season 2 contestant Jeremy Hartwell filed a lawsuit in July 2022, claiming mistreatment by producers, including preventing contestants from basic necessities like sleep and bathroom use.
Love Is Blind, which premiered in February 2020, gained widespread popularity during the pandemic for its unique concept of participants dating in enclosed pods without seeing each other. Poche and Wall’s troubled relationship, along with other unaired storylines, has raised questions about the production’s handling of contestants and the overall integrity of reality TV.