Judge Dismisses Young's Cell Phone Recording Case Against Hilton Worldwide
According to The National Center for State Courts, Americans file about 16 million civil lawsuits annually, which makes you appreciate why lady of justice wears a blindfold. While not every suit is frivolous, many are filed by large law firms in the hopes of getting a class action that will pay their very hefty legal fees. Often times these suits are initiated by a single individual and become part of a larger proceeding when one of these law firms sees the potential. In the case of Young v. Hilton Worldwide Inc., et al. the plaintiff alleged Hilton violated Section 632.7 when the company recorded his cell phone conversation during a customer service call he made to update his credit card information.
Privacy issues are very near and dear to the vast majority of people, and being recorded without ones consent oftentimes constitute a grave violation, but common sense dictates recording the conversation the customer initiates to a call center in order to protect both parties should not be part of a lawsuit.
According to California federal court Hon. Manuel L. Real, the call recording statute does not apply to cell phone call participants and dismissed the plaintiff's complaint with prejudice.
When the case was initially filed by Young, he alleged that Hilton violated two sections of the California Invasion of Privacy Act (CIPA), Sections 632 and 632.7, when the company recorded him without his consent. His claim under California Penal Code Section 632 was later dismissed and after remand from the Ninth Circuit, only his Section 632.7 claim remained.
As the judge wrote in his ruling, "The use of a landline telephone as Hilton allegedly did, was already expressly covered in Section 632, and to give independent meaning to Section 632.7 it would have to cover the radio signals it was meant to protect."
He further stated, "To any extent that Hilton received such calls, it had the consent from the caller. Moreover, the legislature did not limit the service observing monitoring of calls that it is alleged in this case."
What this case highlights is the need for organizations to make it extremely clear when they are recording the conversation they're having with their customers. Making any type of assumptions about the legalities of phone conversations is a recipe for disaster. Call center agents must be trained repeatedly to ensure they understand the consequences of not following these rules, which can end up costing millions of dollars.
Edited by Maurice Nagle