Reporters Sue H-P over Spy Scheme

Article excerpt

A group of reporters and their family members whose private telephone records were secretly obtained as part of Hewlett-Packard Co.'s boardroom surveillance scheme sued the technology giant and two former executives Wednesday.

Five separate lawsuits claiming "illegal and reprehensible conduct" were filed in San Francisco Superior Court against Palo Alto-based Hewlett-Packard, former Chairwoman Patricia Dunn and Kevin Hunsaker, the company's former ethics chief.

Both executives were ousted last year because of their roles in HP's probe of unauthorized leaks to the media. The probe turned into a national scandal for the world's No. 1 seller of PCs and led to criminal investigations and congressional hearings over investigators' use of Social Security numbers and other personal information to trick phone companies into handing over confidential call logs.

The plaintiffs include three reporters from online media company CNET Networks Inc.'s News.com -- Dawn Kawamoto, Stephen Shankland and Tom Krazit -- and one reporter from The Associated Press -- Rachel Konrad, who is Shankland's wife. Other plaintiffs are Kawamoto's husband, Jon Kawamoto, and Shankland's parents, Thomas and Rebecca Shankland.

The lawsuits allege invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and engaging in unfair business practices. They seek unspecified damages and a jury trial.

"We're filing the lawsuits to make sure this never happens again," said Kevin Boyle, one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs.

HP said it apologized to each of the people affected by the spying probe and made a "substantial" settlement offer.

"Unfortunately, rather than respond to the offer, they have decided to sue," HP said in a statement. "HP is disappointed by their decision and will defend itself."

Defense lawyers for Dunn and Hunsaker did not immediately return calls from the AP for comment. …