COLUMBIA, S.C. - Deeming a cell phone found at a crime scene to have been abandoned by its owner, a South Carolina appeals panel majority on Sept. 23 found that the owner, therefore, had also abandoned any expectation of privacy in the phone's contents, affirming a trial court's decision to permit evidence obtained from it at the trial that led to the phone owner's burglary conviction (The State v. Lamar Sequan Brown, No. 2013-000725, S.C. App.; 2015 S.C. App. LEXIS 217).
SAN JOSE, Calif. - In a Sept. 19 summary judgment motion in California federal court, Yahoo Inc. asserts that its email scanning functions, which are at the heart of a privacy class action, comprise beneficial antivirus functions and benign targeted advertising but do not violate asserted federal and state privacy laws (In Re Yahoo Mail Litigation, No. 5:13-cv-04980, N.D. Calif.).
SAN JOSE, Calif. - Social media giant Facebook Inc. told a California federal court in a Sept. 18 motion that the named plaintiffs in a five-year-old putative class action do not have standing to bring their privacy claims under Article III of the U.S. Constitution because they have not established any third-party access of their personal information or any injury in fact, thus meriting dismissal of the case (In Re: Facebook Privacy Litigation, No. 5:10-cv-02389, N.D. Calif.).
SAN FRANCISCO - Social network provider Twitter Inc. was hit with a putative class action Sept. 14, when a Texas man filed a complaint in California federal court, alleging violations of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) and the California Invasion of Privacy Act (***) by Twitter's purported intercepting, reading and sometimes altering private messages between Twitter users (Wilford Raney v. Twitter Inc., No. 3:15-cv-04191, N.D. Calif.).
PHILADELPHIA - The Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Sept. 15 affirmed a lower federal court's ruling that insurers have no duty to defend against three underlying putative class actions alleging that its retailer insured violated state statutes and common-law privacy rights when gathering customers' personal ZIP code information while processing credit card transactions (OneBeacon America Insurance Co. v. Urban Outfitters Inc. and Anthropologie Inc. v. The Hanover Insurance Group, No. 14-2976, 3rd Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 16399).
SAN FRANCISCO - A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Sept. 4 affirmed dismissal of a New York man's putative class action alleging that Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC violated the Video Protection Privacy Act (VPPA) by unlawfully retaining and disclosing his personally identifiable information (PII), holding that the act does not provide for a private right of action for unlawful disclosure (Daniel Rodriguez v. Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC, et al., No. 12-17391, 9th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 15782).
SAN FRANCISCO - A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Aug. 11 denied Yahoo Inc's petition for permission to appeal a trial court's grant of class certification in a lawsuit alleging violation of the Stored Communications Act (SCA) by Yahoo's scanning of the emails of people who are not subscribers of its Yahoo Mail service (Cody Baker v. Yahoo! Inc., No. 15-80101, 9th Cir.).
SANTA ANA, Calif. - A California federal judge on July 29 partly denied a university's motion to dismiss wiretap and privacy class claims against it related to campus police officers' assertions that their conversations were covertly recorded (Federated University Police Officers' Association, et al. v. The Regents of the University of California, et al., No. 8:15-cv-00137, C.D. Calif.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 99147).
DETROIT - A Michigan federal judge on July 27 granted certification to a class of magazine subscribers who allege that when they signed up for their subscriptions, their personal information was shared with two marketing companies in violation of Michigan state law (Rose Coulter-Owens, et al. v. Time, Inc., No. 12-14390, E.D. Mich.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 97352).
OAKLAND, Calif. - The plaintiffs in a putative class action alleging privacy violations by Facebook Inc.'s purported scanning of users' private messages are not permitted to compel materials from the social network's Irish affiliate, a California federal magistrate ruled July 21, finding that considerations of international comity weighed against such discovery (Matthew Campbell, et al. v. Facebook Inc., No. 4:13-cv-05996, N.D. Calif.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 95702).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Citing the presumption against subpoenaing high-ranking government officials and the plaintiffs' failure to establish that they cannot obtain the information sought from other sources, a District of Columbia federal judge on July 16 granted the government's motion to quash a subpoena seeking testimony from the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in a lawsuit alleging privacy violations by the government's retention, search and use of the plaintiffs' emails (Gilberte Jill Kelley, et al. v. Federal Bureau of Investigation, et al., No. 1:13-cv-00825, D. D.C.).
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Finding that individual notification to more than 1 million students and their parents would be impractical in a lawsuit over education rights for disabled students, a California federal judge on July 2 ruled that the California Department of Education (CDOE) can notify parents of the release of student records in response to discovery requests via publication without violating the privacy protections of the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) (Morgan Hill Concerned Parents Association, et al. v. California Department of Education, et al., No. 2:11-cv-03471, E.D. Calif.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 86909).
BALTIMORE - A subpoena served on the Internet service provider (ISP) of a Doe defendant in a file-sharing suit does not violate the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), a Maryland federal judge ruled June 30, finding that the act specifically allows disclosure of subscriber identification information for the purpose of serving process on an alleged infringer in a copyright infringement lawsuit (Malibu Media LLC v. John Doe subscriber assigned to IP Address 184.108.40.206, No. 1:15-cv-01048, D. Md.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 85355).
SAN FRANCISCO - An employer did not unlawfully interfere with a pension plan participant's right to early retirement benefits in violation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by terminating her employment because she was terminated for violating the employer's privacy policies, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed July 1 in an unpublished opinion (Rosemarie Cole v. The Permanente Medical Group, Inc., et al., No. 13-15952, 9th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 11346).
NEW YORK - Materials and communications related to the plaintiff's counsel's investigation in a privacy class action do not qualify for attorney-client privilege, a New York federal magistrate ruled June 26, allowing the defendant to conduct a limited deposition of the attorney (Betsy Feist v. Paxfire Inc., et al., No. 1:11-cv-05436, S.D. N.Y.).