Fifth Circuit Finds Company Not Liable for Alleged Violations of Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and Electronic Communications Privacy Act by its Regional Manager


Do alleged violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, Stored Communications Act, and Wiretap Act committed by a company’s Regional Manager make the company liable?

No, as long as the Regional Manager was not acting on behalf of the company.

On October 19, 2012, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued its ruling in Larson v. Hyperion Int’l Technologies, L.L.C., No. 12-50102 (5th Cir. 2012) in which it affirmed the district court’s granting of a Motion to Dismiss Larson’s Complaint. Larson (pro se) sued Hyperion alleging that Hyperion’s Regional Manager, Frank Stephenson, acquired his personal and private communications, including emails, medical records, and attorney-client communications which he then faxed to a third party, all without Larson’s knowledge or authorization, by using Hyperion’s fax machine and fax cover pages for the transmissions. Larson sued Hyperion for violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, Stored Communications Act, and Wiretap Act, among other things. Following the district court’s dismissal, Larson appealed pro se.

The Fifth Circuit observed that the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, Stored Communications Act, and Wiretap Act statutes all “expressly require intentional interception or publication of electronic communications” by the defendant. The Complaint in this case alleged that Stephenson intentionally violated each of these statutes but, because there was no showing that Stephenson was acting on behalf of Hyperion (the defendant), dismissal of those claims was proper.

Takeaway: If you are going to sue a company for violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, Stored Communications Act, or Wiretap Act, you must also be prepared to plead and prove that the intentional actions of the individuals committing the wrongful acts were acting on behalf of the company.

If you have any questions about pursuing or defending claims under the CFAA or the ECPA, please feel free to contact me to discuss.

Shawn E. Tuma (469.635.1335 /

LOADING PDF: If there are any problems, click here to download the file.

Written by:

Published In:

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Shawn Tuma, Scheef & Stone, L.L.P. | Attorney Advertising

Don't miss a thing! Build a custom news brief:

Read fresh new writing on compliance, cybersecurity, Dodd-Frank, whistleblowers, social media, hiring & firing, patent reform, the NLRB, Obamacare, the SEC…

…or whatever matters the most to you. Follow authors, firms, and topics on JD Supra.

Create your news brief now - it's free and easy »

All the intelligence you need, in one easy email:

Great! Your first step to building an email digest of JD Supra authors and topics. Log in with LinkedIn so we can start sending your digest...

Sign up for your custom alerts now, using LinkedIn ›

* With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name.