April 12, 2012

Texas woman's suit asks Google, Amazon to explain use of personal information

TEXARKANA - A Bowie County woman has filed a lawsuit that asks the court to make a declaration that all information contained in her Gmail account is her personal private property and to order Google to declare how it is using the data it acquires.

Carol Beth Davis filed suit against Google Inc. and Amazon.com, doing business as Zappos.com Inc., on Feb. 13 in Bowie County District Court. The defendants removed the case to the Eastern District of Texas, Texarkana Division on March 23.

According to the lawsuit, Google takes data from Davis' email in order to generate advertisements. She claims these actions show how Google exercises control of her data, which amounts to control over her personal property. Google is accused of acting adversely to Davis' property interests.

Davis states that in mid-January 2012, online shoe and clothing retailer Zappos.com sent out notifications to its users and consumers that their personal account information had been stolen or compromised. The information included name, account numbers, passwords, email addresses, billing and shipping addresses, phone numbers and the last four digits of credit card numbers.

Davis argues that the failure of Zappos.com to properly secure and safeguard its servers has resulted in her personal property being invaded, compromised, intruded upon and her proprietary and private information being disclosed to unauthorized third parties.

In response to the compromised information, Zappos.com recommended that users reset their password and change the passwords on other websites where the user had the same or similar password.

According to the suit, the company allegedly did not offer any identity protection program or credit monitoring program, any assurances that the incident would not recur or any method to stop the continued unlawful use of Davis' personal property.

The lawsuit is seeking a declaration from the court that all data in Davis' email, prior to the receipt and review of that email by Gmail users, is the sole property of Davis and that all data and content in Davis' Zappos.com account are the personal property of Davis.

The plaintiff is asking the court to order Google to disclose all uses it makes of the data for purposes of Gmail and other uses by Google.

She is also asking the court to order Amazon.com to take steps to prevent future breaches and secure her property, provide theft protection plans and credit monitoring plans.

Davis is seeking an award of damages for interest, court costs and attorney's fees.

Sean F. Rommell and James C. Wyly of Wyly Rommel in Texarkana; Kyle Davis of Langdon Davis in New Boston; M. Chad Trammell of The Trammell Law Firm in Texarkana; and Drake Mann of Gill Elrod Ragon Owen & Sherman P.A. in Little Rock, Ark.; are representing Davis.

U.S. District Judge Michael H. Schneider is assigned to the case.

Case No. 5:12-cv-00026



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