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Quote of the Day - I would be content if I had nothing but a tape-recorder. I could still write songs and record them. - Barry Gibb
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Push Zero If You Want To Secretly Tape Telephone Conversations With Californians

"Please note this conversation will be recorded to ensure quality service" is still OK, but not secretly tape recording telephone conversations with residents of California without our consent.  It doesn't matter if your state or country has laws that allow one-sided taping, California doesn't and we intend to enforce our laws, according to a recent California Supreme Court ruling.  While exercising stock options with her company's broker Solomon Smith Barney in Atlanta, Georgia, Californian Kelly Kearney's telephone conversations were taped without her permission. 

She filed a class action suite for violation of her and other Calfornian's privacy rights, and won.  But in winning, she lost. 

The ruling came without a retroactive remedy.  The Court did not award any damages.  Instead, the Court applied its rule only prospectively by allowing an injunction to issue since the parties involved (and the rest of us) were unclear which state's laws prevailed in the event of a conflict.  In Georgia, Solomon Smith Barney can tape telephone conversations without the other party's permission.  Here on the left coast, you can't.  But what happens when Georgia calls California and wants to tape the conversation? 

Well, for one thing, Georgia can tape her side of the conversation, but not California's side.  That's still true after this ruling, but the kicker now takes away Georgia's ability to tape California's side of the conversation, too. 

For lawyers, the most interesting part of this decision is not the outcome, but the remedy.  The Supremes put a stop to secret taping, one of the remedies sought by the Plaintiffs.  So, on one hand, the Plaintiffs won.  The Supremes, however, likewise put a stop to the Plaintiffs and their lawyers because they barred the recovery of monetary damages.  As you likely know, for plaintiff's lawyers, class actions are about recovering damages.  Especially when the case, as this one likely was, is "on contingency" in terms of how the lawyers get paid.  So, on the other hand, the Plaintiffs and their lawyers lost.

You can be sure the rest of this case will die a quick death because nobody's being paid.

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Friday, July 14, 2006 at 23:23 Comments Closed (0) |
 
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