In 2007, Army lieutenant Peter Burks was killed when an IED exploded next to his Humvee in Baghdad. But, almost five years later, a smiling photo of Burks in his military fatigues popped up on two dating sites alongside the text “Military Men Looking for Love.”
Burks’ parents filed a lawsuit in Dallas County District Court on Monday the against the two dating sites, Flower Mound-based True.com and Vancouver-based Plenty of Fish.
“Attempting to exploit Lt. Burks’ good looks and strong jaw image for their financial gain, Defendants used his photo on their dating websites in multiple advertisements,” the lawsuit reads. The lawsuit is based on multiple tort claims including misappropriation, violation of the Texas Property Code, and intrusion on seclusion.
“The implication is that, if you click here, this is one of our members. This is somebody you’ll meet—and people like him—when this fallen hero has been dead three or four years,” the family’s attorney Rogge Dunn told told NBC 5’s Ellen Goldberg.
Cara Hammond, a graduate of the University of Arkansas Law School and friend of the family, alerted Burks’ parents after stumbling across the photos on the dating websites, Little Rock’s KATV News reported.
“It’s just as wrong as it can be,” Alan Burke told Goldberg. Burke, who wears his son’s dog tags around his neck to this day, slammed the sites for “trading on the courage of young men and women who volunteer to serve our country.”
True.com president Ruben Buell apologized for the ad, which he said his company did not “create or place,” the Associated Press reported. “We will be trying to figure out who created this ad and how it got there — not just how they pulled us into it, but who it was that did that so the family can have some peace in the matter,” Buell said.
Burks majored in international studies and graduated from Texas A&M in 2003. While in college he worked as a sportswriter and served as president as the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity. Three years after graduation, after stints working for the Dallas Cowboys and FC Dallas, Burks joined the Army, the lawsuit says. He attended officer training school and become a troop leader. “Lt. Burks had the ability to light up any room with his glowing personality and quick sense of humor, and lived life with a passion,” the lawsuit says.
Burks’ father and fiancée run the Unsung Hero Fund, a nonprofit operated in the fallen soldier’s memory that distributes care packages to deployed soldiers and humanitarian supplies to Iraq and Afghanistan.
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