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3 reporters sue HP in spying case

Three reporters from CNET News.com’s San Francisco newsroom — Dawn Kawamoto (shown above), Stephen Shankland and Tom Krazit — filed suit yesterday (Aug. 15) against Hewlett Packard, alleging the Palo Alto company invaded their privacy by obtaining their phone records to trace boardroom leaks.

In addition to the reporters, Kawamoto’s husband and Shankland’s wife and parents filed their owns suits, CNET News.com reports. HP said a “substantial settlement offer” it made to the plaintiffs was rejected. The plaintiffs’ attorney, Kevin Boyle, said: “We think the biggest component is going to be punitive damages, which we hope will deter HP and other companies from ever doing this again.” While several HP figures, including then-chairwoman Patricia Dunn, were charged criminally, nobody went to jail and the company paid a $14.5 million settlement with the state.

In May, The New York Times reported that four other reporters — Peter Burrows, Ben Elgin and Roger Crockett from BusinessWeek and John Markoff from the NY Times — were pursuing settlement discussions as a group, together with The New York Times Company. Two Wall Street Journal reporters investigated by HP, Pui-Wing Tam and George Anders, declined to seek compensation, the Times said. The Wall Street Journal indicated in December that it would not take part in settlement talks or any legal action.

[Press Release from Panish, Shea & Boyle, representing plaintiffs] (Photo credit: Peter DaSilva for The New York Times, May 2007)

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