woman sues rogers for exposing affair to husband

Can mobile carriers be liable for divorce? I guess we’ll find out soon enough. There was a story in the Toronto Star this morning that told of a woman who is suing Rogers for $600,000 because her husband left her. She alleges this was caused by Rogers taking the liberty of sending her husband a consolidated bill when he signed up for internet and home phone. They apparently then lumped in her cell phone bill, which she alleges she did not request. When the husband saw the bill and noticed a series of long phone calls, he called the number and apparently found out about his wife’s affair.

Needless to say, Rogers is asserting that it is not liable, primarily it seems on the basis of lack of causality – i.e. it was the affair that led to the break-up, not the disclosure of personal information. Of course the wife will argue that the break-up would not have happened but for Rogers disclosure, which is likely alleged to be in contravention of her agreement with Rogers or the Canadian Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act.

Interestingly, on the latter front, she apparently did not choose to make a complaint to the federal privacy commissioner, instead deciding to proceed by way of a statement of claim in the Ontario Superior Court.

I have my doubts as to the likelihood of her success. Despite the unfortunate circumstance she and her two young children now find themselves, I don’t think the courts will have much sympathy for her claim. Even if there were a breach by Rogers, I’m not sure how much in the way of damages she would be awarded. The question here would be whether the court believes the damages would have been foreseeable by Rogers. I think that would be unlikely. But who knows. In any event, I’m sure this is a case that The Ashley Madison Agency will be following very closely.

Valuation of Flies

One of the great things about working in a large firm is the sheer depth of expertise and knowledge. As an example, a recent case came out and was analyzed in short order by the folks in our litigation group, which discussed an interesting interpretation liability for negligence.

The first three paragraphs sum it up rather nicely:

[1] The Mustaphas maintain a spotless home. Cleanliness and hygiene are matters of utmost importance to them. On November 21, 2001, an incident occurred that offended their sense of sanctity in the purity of their home, and shattered Mr. Mustapha’s life. In the course of replacing an empty bottle of Culligan water on the dispenser provided by Culligan, he and his wife saw a dead fly, and part of another dead fly, in the fresh, unopened, replacement bottle.

[2] Neither Mr. Mustapha nor any member of his family drank from the bottle. He became obsessed, however, with thoughts about the dead fly in the water and about the potential implications for his family’s health of their having possibly been drinking unpurified water supplied in the past.

[3] The trial judge accepted the medical evidence that Mr. Mustapha suffers from a major depressive disorder, with associated phobia and anxiety – all triggered by the fly-in-the-bottle incident. In the result, Mr. Mustapha recovered judgment at trial in the total amount of $341,775, plus pre-judgment interest, for psychiatric injuries suffered because of the incident.

My emphasis. The decision goes on for many, many more paragraphs to ultimately overturn the judgement and absolve Culligan of liability. Its a well thought out judgement with cogent arguments supporting the conclusion.

All that being said, even as a lawyer, sometimes I read certain cases, such as this one, and wonder whether judges ever wish they could write a judgement more along these lines:

C’mon Mr. Mustapha. Its a fly. OK, a fly and a half. It didn’t kill you. It wouldn’t have killed you. Get over it. Fine, you freaked out. And I probably would also be a bit upset. But really, destroying your life? $341,000 in damages? No, the damages aren’t from the fly, they’re from you. So forget it. Not today. Not in my court. Appeal allowed. Good day.

Yes, I have my tongue firmly in cheek and yes, definitely, I understand the need for lengthy and well-reasoned judgements, etc. But sometimes, just sometimes, I scratch my head a bit and wonder what the world would be like…

RIAA to AllOfMP3: Show Me the Money!!

Interesting article in TechCrunch about how AllOfMP3 told the RIAA to get lost when it filed its $1,650,000,000,000 (yes, you did read that figure right – its in the trillions) claim in New York against AllOfMP3, even though AllOfMP3 operates out of Russia. From a legal perspective one would typically launch into the complexities of jurisdiction, judicial comity, real and substantial connection, forum non conveniens, blah, blah, blah.

But since this is a personal blog, let’s focus on the fun part, shall we? Let’s focus on the CASH. Woohoo! Fun with numbers. OK, so, let’s see. Accordingly to the CIA World Factbook, the current population of the world is 6,525,170,264. So, if the the damages sought by the RIAA were evenly divided amongst every man, woman and child, each one of them could go out and buy, oh, about twenty CDs, give or take. Wow. That’s a lot of CDs.

Another way to look at it? Its bigger than the GDP of every country in the world except for roughly the top ten. Yes yes, figures are few years old. Fine. Call it 15. You get the point. In any event, around the ballpark GDP for all of Russia. Yes, including the little nesting doll thingies.
From a more personal perspective, the interest on that amount, calculated at the low, low US fed rate for the shockingly painful period of time of two minutes is quite just a bit more than the combined annual incomes of me, my wife, my mom, stepmom, dad, sister, and her husband make in a year.
The point? Just that its a lot of money. A LOT of money. Not exactly googol or a googolplex

(which, as you probably know, is how Google got its name:

The Internet search engine Google was named after this number. Larry Page, one of the founders, was fascinated with mathematics and ‘Googol’, even during high school. They ended up with ‘Google’ due to a spelling mistake on a cheque that investors wrote to the founders.

(from Wikipedia)) but still a lot of money.

Update:  Further news from the INQ – apparently they calcuated damages at US$150,000 per song. Though the INQ correctly observes that AllOfMP3 hasn’t made that much money, damages could also be measured not by what an infringer has made (or an “accounting of profits”) but also the harm that they’ve cost you – so if AllOfMP3 sold each song for a penny, while the RIAA members would have otherwise sold the same song for a buck, multiply that by 150,000 downloads and you have your damages, as that is what they’ve lost out.