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Privacy Law

Divorce Lawyer Is Sued Along with Client Who Secretly Monitored Wife on Video

Posted Sep 12, 2012 7:10 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A well-known Cincinnati lawyer is among the defendants in two federal privacy lawsuits filed by a woman and her online friend claiming the attorney intended to use secret surveillance in divorce proceedings.

Plaintiff Catherine Zang alleges her then-husband, Cincinnati home builder Joseph Zang, spied on her with a hidden video camera and microphone, as well as computer-tracking software, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Catherine Zang and the friend, Javier Luis, seek hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages for wiretapping and invasion of privacy.

Catherine Zang says she discovered the devices in 2009 after her husband’s divorce lawyer, Mary Jill Donovan, revealed she had evidence portraying Catherine Zang in “unflattering, embarrassing and private settings,” the suit says. The complaint claims Donovan intended to use the evidence to obtain a favorable settlement for Joseph Zang.

Joseph Zang has admitted installing the monitoring devices, but has said he did nothing wrong, the story says. Donovan did not respond to the newspaper’s request for comment and Joseph Zang declined to comment.

At issue in the suit is the reach of federal and Ohio federal wiretapping laws, the story says. The laws permit audio recordings as long as one of the parties is aware of the recording. Catherine Zang argues near constant surveillance was not permitted under the laws, however, because her husband wasn’t always at home during the taping.

Surveillance between spouses is becoming more common, according to Ken Altshuler, president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. “There’s absolutely been an increase in this,” he told the Enquirer. “They have very sophisticated technology now.”

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