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After a “traumatic experience” on Love Is Blind, one of the show’s contestants has sued Netflix for allegedly inflicting intentional emotional distress and violating a slew of labour codes.

Renee Poche filed the lawsuit against Netflix and the Love Is Blind production company Delirium TV on Tuesday in Los Angeles. She was filmed as a contestant on Season 5 of the hit reality TV show, though her full storyline did not appear in the final cut.

According to the lawsuit, which was obtained by Deadline, Poche is suing for “unlawful employment practices,” “unfair competition” and “intentional infliction of emotional distress.” Poche claimed she was “forced” to spend time with her “emotionally abusive” fiancé, whom she was paired with during the show — and who was apparently addicted to drugs and alcohol.

Poche’s lawsuit is not the first to hit Love Is Blind, the show that encourages couples to find love without ever seeing each other. In October 2023, contestant Tran Dang sued the production over claims of sexual assault, false imprisonment and negligence. (Dang sued Delirium and Kinetic Content, but not Netflix.) In 2022, the reality show was sued over “inhumane working conditions” that allegedly saw contestants forced to work 20-hour days while being denied adequate water and food, and instead being plied with alcohol.

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Variety, which was first to report about the new lawsuit, said Love Is Blind production staff confiscated Poche’s phone, passport and driver’s licence on her first night. In her legal filing, Poche said she was locked in her hotel room and was unable to leave without a cast wrangler by her side.

During filming, Poche, a Texas-based veterinarian, eventually hit it off with contestant Carter Wall.

In the lawsuit, Poche describes Wall as a “walking red flag.” She said Wall displayed “erratic and alarming behavior,” “emotional instability” and was addicted to amphetamines and alcohol. In an interview with Variety, Poche additionally described Wall as “broke, jobless, unhoused, violent” and said he was abusive on and off camera.

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Poche said she expressed her concerns about Wall to the production team but was still forced to spend time with him, sometimes alone. Poche and Wall were made to continue their engagement throughout the production, her lawsuit alleges.

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Poche said she was “led to believe that participants were selected based on compatibility and marriage potential and screened with background checks and psychological examinations.”

She said was “utterly terrified” of Wall but was made to continue their engagement during the show or face legal consequences.

“Wall regularly berated Poche, stole from the set or places they visited, and solicited others to buy painkillers and amphetamines for him,” the lawsuit claims. “Wall was emotionally abusive on and off camera, lied malignantly, and heavily abused drugs and alcohol.

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“In Houston, production staff warned Poche to ensure Wall had no access to firearms or other weapons because they were concerned he would hurt himself, her, or others.”

Poche insisted production behind Love Is Blind was “well aware of Wall’s mental instability,” and cited an instance when a camera operator reportedly quit their job after they were physically threatened by Wall.

Poche ended her relationship with Wall after filming concluded.

So far, Netflix and Delirium have not publicly commented on Poche’s lawsuit.

“My experience on Love is Blind was traumatic,” Poche said in a statement. “I felt like a prisoner and had no support when I let Delirium know that I didn’t feel safe.

“I tried to deal with these emotions over time and eventually felt like I needed to share what had happened. I felt it was only right to let others know the truth of what all of the castmates had to endure.”

Poche, like many, said she was recruited to appear on Love Is Blind through Instagram. After a prolonged interview period, Poche joined a group of 15 men and 15 women and began filming in April 2022 in Los Angeles.

Delirium sues Poche for $5.3 million

Poche’s lawsuit was filed as part of a request to nullify her contract with the show — and came after Delirium legally pursued her first.

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When the filming of Love Is Blind Season 5 concluded, Poche made some public comments criticizing the show. As a result, Delirium argued Poche had violated an existing nondisclosure agreement (NDA) and initiated private arbitration against her to the tune of US$4 million (about C$5.3 million).

According to the legal complaint, Poche made only US$8,000 (nearly C$10,660) from her stint on Love Is Blind. 

The legal claim by Poche aims to clear her of “all forms of liability.”

Poche filed her lawsuit through Hollywood lawyers Bryan Freedman and Mark Geragos, who have recently been advocating for improved reality TV conditions and contracts. The lawyers are currently working with Real Housewives TV personality Bethenny Frankel to investigate the treatment of reality stars.

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“These so-called reality TV contracts are, in reality, illegal,” Freedman told Variety. “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.

“Renee’s contract protects Delirium and Netflix from liability for future intentional misconduct and includes ruinous penalties in the millions of dollars for participants who dare to speak out about the unsafe working conditions on set.

“It is, in sum, a license to wreak emotional and financial havoc all while profiting for an eternity.”

Freedman and Geragos have said a “day of reckoning” for reality TV may soon be coming.

&copy 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Lora Helmin

Lora Helmin

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