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Two months ago, when a contestant on VH1’s “Megan Wants a Millionaire” murdered his ex-wife and committed suicide, the network promptly cancelled the show. At the time, we wrote that “this episode is opening up discussion about the way that reality producers vet contestants’ backgrounds.”
There’s now some more information about this subject, courtesy of a new lawsuit filed by the investigative agency Collective Intelligence that was hired by the show’s producer, 51 Minds, to screen potential cast members, including Ryan Jenkins.
Collective Intelligence provides background searches for nearly 100 production companies, including Viacom entities. But the agency has a hole in its screening, saying that it does not perform criminal background checks outside the United States. As a result, the agency outsourced foreign background checks to other investigative agencies.
In a complaint filed last week in Illinois, Collective Intelligence blames another agency, Straightline International, for failing to uncover the fact that Jenkins was convicted in Canadian court of domestic battery for assaulting his ex-girlfriend. As a result of the oversight, and the sensational murder-suicide that made headlines and forced “Megan Wants a Millionaire” off the air, Collective Intelligence says its reputation has suffered and the agency has lost business from Viacom, ABC and other clients.
VH1 has given Collective Intelligence the opportunity to show that Straightline is at fault in this matter, according to the complaint, but the defendant has allegedly failed to cooperate with information requests. Collective Intelligence is suing for breach of contract, unjust enrichment, negligent misrepresentation, fraud, and tortious interference.
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