Two weeks after the season five premiere of Love Is Blind, it’s been revealed that one of its participants has filed a lawsuit against the producers of the Netflix series, claiming that an alleged attack she suffered during the show’s filming was likely captured on camera. It’s the second suit filed by a contestant of the reality dating show in recent years, following a 2022 claim of “inhumane working conditions” and substandard pay.
According to a legal filing obtained by Deadline, season five participant Tran Dang claims that fellow participant Thomas Smith sexually assaulted her during a “Mexico vacation” portion of the series. As participants are under “24-hour surveillance” as part of the production of the series, “most if not all of these traumatic acts were filmed by the production crew and within their knowledge,” Dang alleges.
The premise of the series, if you’re unfamiliar with the streaming smash, is that single contestants “date” while interacting through a glowing blue wall. The couple only meets in person after they agree to get engaged; a wedding for each pair is then promised a few weeks later. According to the filing, Dang and Smith were engaged as part of the series; the alleged assault occurred on May 3, 2022 and the suit was filed on Aug. 16, 2022 but was only reported this week.
Smith and Love Is Blind production companies Kinetic Content and Delirium TV are named in the suit, which claims that when Dang reported the incident to producers, they “made attempts to mask Plaintiff’s sexual assault by characterizing it as a lack of attraction on part of the Plaintiff.”
In a joint statement sent to People, which was the first outlet to report the filing, Kinetic Content and Delirium TV deny Dang’s allegations, saying that they “support and stand with victims of sexual assault, but Ms. Dang’s claims against the producers are meritless. We document the independent choices of adults who volunteer to participate in a social experiment. Their journey is not scripted, nor is it filmed around the clock. We have no knowledge or control over what occurs in private living spaces when not filming, and participants may choose to end their journey at any time.”
According to the statement, Dang “never informed the producers of any alleged wrongdoing of any kind” and “continued in the experiment for weeks after the time her lawyers now claim an incident occurred.”
In a separate statement, show creator Chris Coelen said that Dang “never told [us] that she felt unsafe or experienced any of the allegations that she made.” As of publication time, Smith has not publicly responded to Dang’s claims.
Via a statement sent to Rolling Stone, Dang’s attorney, Ben Allen wrote, “The producers are throwing money at the problem by spending an inordinate amount of money on losing legal positions that do nothing but delay the parties from having their day in Court. They lost on three distinct legal issues before the trial court and then filed three separate appeals to multiply the proceedings we have to wade through before finally trying this case. We are confident that Ms. Dang’s position will be vindicated once we get there and are committed to seeing it through all of the way.”
Dang’s lawsuit was filed shortly after season two contestant Jeremy Hartwell filed his own lawsuit against Netflix, Kinetic, and Delirium claiming that the show’s producers “intentionally underpaid the cast members, deprived them of food, water and sleep, plied them with booze and cut off their access to personal contacts and most of the outside world,” attorney Chantal Payton told Variety last year. “This made cast members hungry for social connections and altered their emotions and decision-making,” she said.
“Mr. Hartwell’s involvement in Season 2 of ‘Love is Blind’ lasted less than one week,” Kinetic responded in a statement at the time. “There is absolutely no merit to Mr. Hartwell’s allegations, and we will vigorously defend against his claims.”
Neither Dang nor Smith have appeared in any episodes of Love Is Blind that have aired thus far. In an interview with Variety prior to the news of Dang’s suit, Coelen said that on season five, “There were multiple other couples that got engaged that were not followed.”
“Each season, there are lots of stories that we don’t tell, regardless of whether couples get engaged or not,” he said. “Some of them even, we will follow for a little bit and not show their story on the show… It’s a little bit of a judgment call.”