NBA’s Warriors Can’t Score Dismissal in Federal Wiretap Action

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By Daniel R. Stoller

The NBA’s Golden State Warriors and third-party partner Signal360 Inc. failed to evade federal wiretap claims for allegedly capturing audio recordings without fan consent.

The named plaintiff on behalf of a proposed class successfully argued in the first amended complaint that the Warriors and Bluetooth technology company Signal360 intercepted or had access to fans’ mobile device recordings in violation of the Wiretap Act, Judge Jeffrey S. White of the Northern District of California ruled Nov. 20 ( Satchell v. Sonic Notify, Inc. , N.D. Cal., No. 16-cv-04961, partial dismissal 11/20/17 ).

The case arises out of consumer claims that the Warriors and their third-party partners violated the federal Wiretap Act, 18 U.S.C. § 2511, with a fan-entertainment application that activated the microphone on users’ mobile devices to identify their locations via audio. The named plaintiff also raised claims that the Warriors and third-party providers intercepted oral communications under another provision of the Wiretap Act, 18 U.S.C. § 2511(1)(b).

According to the amended complaint, there was no explicit consent provision or notice that audio would be recorded when downloading and using the Warrior’s application.

The Wiretap Act allows individual consumers to sue anyone who “intentionally intercepts, endeavors to intercept, or procures any other person to intercept or endeavor to intercept, any wire, oral, or other electronic communication,” within two years of the alleged violation.

Raymond Ridder, Warriors vice president of communications, told Bloomberg Law Nov. 21 that the team doesn’t “comment on pending litigation.” Representatives for Signal360 didn’t immediately respond to Bloomberg Law’s email request for comment.

The app provided fans with an interactive experience “by delivering scores, news, and other information relevant to the organization,” according to the first amended complaint. Specifically, the app turned on the microphone of a user’s smart device to constantly record all audio, including personal and private communications, using Bluetooth beacons, the complaint said.

The April 10 motion to dismiss argued that the named plaintiff didn’t adequately allege that the team intercepted or “actually acquired the contents” of any protected information.

The defendants now have until Dec. 8 to answer the allegations in the complaint.

Cooley LLP represented Signal360 and the Warriors. Edelson PC represented the proposed class.

To contact the reporter on this story: Daniel R. Stoller in Washington at dstoller@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Donald Aplin at daplin@bloomberglaw.com

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