Plaintiff Hires Computer Forensic Expert to Set up Fire Wall; Suspects Defendant Ex-Wife Hacked His Computer
In Sachdev v. Singh, Case No. 15-7114 (S.D. N.Y., Feb. 26, 2016), Plaintiff sued his ex-wife, alleging that she had violated the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) and intentionally interfered with his contractual relations. Plaintiff, an Indian citizen, married Defendant, an American citizen, in 2007; they separated in 2010. During their divorce proceedings, which took place in India, Defendant produced a significant amount of evidence that Plaintiff asserted she could not have obtained without hacking into his computer. Plaintiff pointed to documentary and pictorial evidence that could only have been obtained by someone with his passwords and access to his computer; he also claimed to have been contacted by someone claiming to be a hacker and advising him that the hacker had turned down a job to hack Plaintiff. The hacker’s email included information that only Defendant would have known. Plaintiff ended up paying substantial sums to hire a computer forensic expert and set up firewalls to protect his information. Defendant filed a Motion for Summary Judgment and a Motion to Dismiss.
Under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, a plaintiff must prove damages of at least $5,000; Defendant argued that Plaintiff did not meet that threshold. Part of Defendant’s argument was that the cost of putting up the firewall could not be included in the damages under the CFAA because it was not a measure taken to address damage “that had already taken place.” Plaintiff’s computer forensic expert testified to the contrary, stating that a firewall can mitigate damage from prior hacks. As a result, the court denied Defendant’s motion for summary judgment. The court also denied her Motion to Dismiss as to most of the counts of the complaint, but did dismiss two of the multiple counts.