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Deal v. Spears

United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
980 F.2d 1153 (1992)


Sibbie Deal (plaintiff) was an employee at the White Oak Package Store (White Oak), which Newell and Juanita Spears (defendants) owned. The defendants lived next to White Oak and had one phone for both locations. Deal often made personal calls on the White Oak phone so the defendants told her that they might start monitoring calls to try and dissuade her from making so many personal calls. Deal testified that she would hear a “click” if someone picked up the phone at the defendants’ residence. The White Oak was burglarized and the defendants suspected that it was an employee and that Deal may have been involved. The defendants began recording phone calls made from the store phone. They ended up recording 22 hours of phone calls, all of which Newell listened to even though much of the recordings were irrelevant to the burglary. In fact, much of the recordings were “sexually provocative” and were between Deal and a man with whom she was having an extramarital affair. They never told Deal that they began monitoring calls. Deal brought a civil suit against the defendants based on the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act (Act), which prohibits the interception of wire or oral communications. The trial court found in favor of Deal. The defendants appealed on the grounds that Deal gave implied consent to the recordings and that the recordings fell under the business exception to the Act.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Bowman, J.)

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