Monday, April 29, 2013

Intel Corporation v. Hamidi case brief

Intel Corporation v. Hamidi case brief
71 P.3d 296

CASE SYNOPSIS: Plaintiff company sued defendant, a former employee, claiming that by communicating with its employees over its electronic mail (e-mail) system defendant committed the tort of trespass to chattels. The trial court granted the company's motion for summary judgment and enjoined defendant from any further mailings. The Court of Appeal, Third District, California, affirmed. The instant court granted defendant's petition for review.

FACTS: On six occasions over almost two years, defendant sent e-mails criticizing the company's employment practices to numerous current employees on the company's e-mail system. Defendant breached no computer security barriers in order to communicate with the company's employees. He offered to, and did, remove from his mailing list any recipient who so wished. Defendant's communications caused neither physical damage nor functional disruption to the company's computers, nor did they deprive the company of the use of its computers. The contents of the messages, however, caused discussion among employees and managers.

The instant court concluded that the company did not present undisputed facts demonstrating an injury to its personal property, or to its legal interest in that property, that supported, under California tort law, an action for trespass to chattels. Regarding constitutional considerations, the principal of a right not to listen, founded in personal autonomy, could not justify the sweeping injunction issued against all communication to the company's addresses, for such a right, logically, could be exercised only by, or at the behest of, the recipient himself or herself.

CONCLUSION: The judgment of the court of appeal was reversed.

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