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    Omaha World-Herald: Bugged teddy bear turns costly

    The Omaha World-Herald reports on a case in Nebraska concerning surreptitious audio surveillance by a wife in her home:

    In a civil judgment, U.S. Magistrate Judge F.A. Gossett III has ruled that Dianna Divingnzzo unlawfully recorded ex-husband William “Duke” Lewton by inserting the device into her then-4-year-old daughter’s toy bear. He also found that Divingnzzo’s father, Sam, improperly transcribed conversations from Little Bear — and that Divingnzzo’s former attorney, William Bianco, improperly distributed copies of the recordings.

    Gossett ordered Divingnzzo and her father to pay $10,000 each to everyone who could be identified on the recording, including Lewton, his then-fiancee, a neighbor, a cousin and some court-appointed workers. […]

    “The uncontroverted evidence shows that the bugging of Little Bear accomplished much more than simply recording oral communications to which (the child) was a party,” Gossett wrote. “Rather, the device was intentionally designed to record absolutely everything that transpired in the presence of the toy.”

    Plain and simple, Gossett said, that is illegal. Under state and federal law, at least one person must consent to the recording of a conversation. […]

    In time, Little Bear recorded dozens of conversations involving Lewton, the daughter, a cousin, a neighbor, an office manager and court workers overseeing the child-custody case. […]

    Once the illegal recordings were discovered, Lewton went to Omaha attorney John Kinney, who filed the federal lawsuit. […] Kinney said the six people awarded damages may have further recourse to file invasion of privacy claims in state court.

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