Obiter Dicta

Attorney-Client ‘Privilege’?

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Amanda Sprehn received a very strange phone call in November.

Sprehn, 28, is a lawyer with the Annap­olis, Md., firm of Hyatt, Peters & Weber. Someone at the firm told her that officials from the Mary­land Reception, Diagnostic and Classifi­cation Center—a Baltimore prison—were not at all happy with her. How dare you use your privi­leged access, they wanted to know, to make jailhouse whoopee with an inmate?

Sprehn’s reaction: Huh?

She says she wasn’t anywhere near the prison that day, and she has a pretty good alibi, too: Sprehn was home at the time, on ma­ternity leave with her new baby girl. Confused prison officials eventual­ly realized that Sprehn’s identity had been stolen by a 29-year-old woman and used to gain entrance.

Maj. Priscilla Doggett, spokeswoman for the prison facility, alleges Tiffany Gwen Weaver of Reisters­town “devised a clever and elaborate scheme that allowed her to circumvent the security entrance procedures” for visiting attorneys.

Doggett says Weaver substituted her own photo on Sprehn’s Mary­land state bar card and used one of Sprehn’s business cards. She says there have been some procedural changes in the wake of the incident.

So how was Weaver able to procure Sprehn’s lawyerly IDs? “That,” Sprehn says, “is the million-dollar question.”

Tactical Triumph Computer Customer Bytes Back, Catches Corporate Suits Napping, Kicks Them in the Kiosk

Anyone who has been frustrated by trying to resolve a tech issue on the phone with people from a foreign land, please raise your hand. A wise person would wager that there are many hands in the air.

Pat Dori was willing to put in the time and effort to get his issue with Dell Inc. resolved, but after countless hours spent on the phone with a revolving cast of techies—both foreign and domestic—he needed a way to get the compa­ny’s attention.

Dori, 49, of Englewood, N.J., says his laptop was lost in July by the PC giant, and he decided to sue when he deemed the company’s offer of a refurbished laptop unacceptable.

“It was not what I had agreed to,” he says.

But instead of having the papers served at the company’s Texas head­quarters, Dori had them served at a Dell kiosk at a local mall where blue-shirted salespeople take orders for products. He says he got the idea from a college business law textbook. The gambit paid off.

When no representative from Dell showed up in court, Dori won a de­fault judgment of $3,000.

Dell appealed the ruling and a set­tlement was reached in De­­cem­ber. Neither Dell nor Dori will comment on the terms of the set­tlement.

Dell spokesman Dwayne Cox would not comment on the case but said the company “is dedicated to improving customer service.”