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View Diary: DOJ Dread Exposed: Destruction of AT&T (260 comments)

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  •  The Question Is Remedy. (0+ / 0-)

    If the merits were determined against AT&T, there would have to be an allocation of liability between AT&T and the government and an assessment of damages.

    One can also expect a punitive damages award against a participating company, but I doubt that a crushing one would be imposed, given the government endorsement of the conduct, and an attorneys' fee award for the Plaintiffs' lawyers if they prevail.  Perhaps a punitive damages award would be in the single digit millions.

    I suspect that in most cases the only damages that could be shown would be nominal.  Some sort of "we screwed with your civil liberties" mass settlement implemented on bills with a post-card settlement process for former customers, for a buck or buck per month to the vast majority of customers whose conversations weren't singled out for special treatment and who can't prove special harm (and may not even have been aware of the violation) is likely.

    Those who learned of the problem and changed to more expensive transmittal means would be able to charge their excess mailing costs and perhaps some lump sum that reflect that they had something to worry about.

    It doesn't appear that there are any known cases where a criminal prosecution was based upon a FISA violated wire tap, although an order for the government to disclose any cases that were the fruit of this kind of spying would be a possible remedy.

    The state secrets defense that may be insufficient to block the average Joe's suit, would probably be more effective against an individual claiming to be damages from illegal surveilance.  I don't see any way, practically, of making that case.

    Bottom line: This litigation is not good for AT&T, but I doubt that it will have more economic impact on the firm that a bad quarterly financial result.

    "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities" -- Voltaire

    by ohwilleke on Tue Sep 18, 2007 at 03:56:46 PM PDT

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