Feb 042011
 February 4, 2011  Posted by  Court, Surveillance

Venkat Balasubramani discusses a case in Arkansas:

Miller v. Meyers, 09-cv-6103 (W.D. Ark.; Jan 21, 2011)

This case presents another fact pattern involving an increasingly common twist to the modern divorce proceeding – someone surreptitiously accesses his or her spouse’s email and on-line accounts to gather information to be used in a family law proceeding. The now ex-spouse brings a claim for violation of statutes protecting the privacy of communications. Here, the ex-spouse gets summary judgment on her Stored Communications Act claim, and the parties shortly settle after the court’s ruling.


Finally, the court rejects plaintiff’s claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress, finding that defendant’s conduct was not shocking or outrageous. Here the court throws out a zinger:

Defendant’s conduct of monitoring the internet traffic on his home network and using a keylogger to access his then wife’s emails, and then using copies of those documents in divorce and custody proceedings is not extreme and outrageous conduct. A husband prying into his wife’s email, after learning that she was engaging in conversations and photo sharing, and then using damaging emails in a divorce and custody proceedings can hardly be considered “extreme and outrageous,” “beyond all possible bounds of decency,” or “utterly intolerable in a civilized society.”

Say what? I guess all is fair in love and war (including violating federal statutes), in this court’s view.

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What really  struck me about this case is how civil it all was. if this was Michigan and not Arkansas, the snooping spouse might be charged with a felony.  So what would this Arkansas judge say – that felonious behavior is neither extreme nor outrageous conduct in a marriage?

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