A Los Angeles woman is suing Sprint Corp., contending that one of its workers browsed through her trade-in phone, found photographs of her engaged in sex and posted them on her Facebook page.
The woman, identified in the lawsuit only as J. Johnson, said the Sprint employee used the Facebook application on her old phone to upload the photographs and make them visible to her friends, family and co-workers.
The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, seeks unspecified damages for invasion of privacy, infliction of emotional distress and identity theft.
“It was very embarrassing, shocking, traumatizing,” said S. Mohammad “Mike” Kazerouni, the woman’s attorney. “I think it’s disgusting. I can’t fathom why someone would want to put up intimate pictures of someone they’ve never met on their Facebook page.”
Sprint said it is looking into the allegations.
“Protecting customer privacy is of the utmost importance to Sprint. We take these matters very seriously,” Sprint spokeswoman Stephanie Vinge Walsh said in an email. “We intend to fully investigate this matter.”
Johnson said she traded in her HTC Evo telephone at the Sprint store on Melrose Avenue in April 2013 and was assured by a worker that its contents would be wiped clean. She had forgotten that the two intimate photos were among more than 5,000 on her old phone, her lawyer said.
About one month later, a friend called Johnson to tell her that compromising photographs had been posted on her Facebook page. Johnson and a man are naked in the photographs and both of their faces are visible, Kazerouni said.
The man, identified in the lawsuit as D. Green, is also suing Sprint.
Johnson said Sprint told her the telephone had been sent to a plant in Louisville to be refurbished. Her lawsuit alleges that an unidentified Sprint employee accessed the photographs at the Louisville plant and used the phone’s Facebook application to post them on her Facebook news feed.
Several of her Facebook friends commented about the photographs, including one man who said he had downloaded them and planned to keep them.
“She had a lot of friends from out-of-state who made teasing comments, ‘We see California is treating you well,’” Kazerouni said.
It was difficult for her to return to her marketing job, the lawyer said, because she was unaware of who had seen the photos.
The attorney said he did not list his clients’ names in the lawsuit to protect their privacy. Both are in their 30s and live in Los Angeles, he said. They are not in a relationship, he said.
“They don’t know how many people have seen it. But just based on the comments [on Facebook], it was a lot of people,” Kazerouni said. “It’s been fairly traumatizing for both of them.”
Johnson saved a screenshot of her Facebook page with the photographs, her attorney said. It shows that the photographs were loaded by a mobile user, he said.
The attorney said he intends to subpoena Facebook for records that would show where the phone was located when the photos were posted.
The lawsuit comes amid growing concern about privacy related to Internet and social media use. Kazerouni said his clients’ experience should concern anyone who uses a smartphone.
“It certainly makes you think twice about turning your phone in without making sure it’s erased, even if you’re assured it will be,” he said.
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