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UPDATED: The LA Times Sued For Wiretapping?

LA Times pressman Ed Padgett spotted this billboard a couple days ago, and it left us scratching our heads.

When we think of wiretapping, it’s usually in the context of nefarious governments and James Bond-type antics. Is it possible our own hometown newspaper was illicitly eavesdropping on the conversations of unsuspecting citizens?

Um, no.

What the lawsuit alleges is that business columnist Michael Hiltzik recorded phone interviews with an on-the-record source, attorney Robert Silverman. It should be noted that it’s standard practice for journalists to record interviews, since most of us can’t type that fast.

But according to state wiretap law, both parties have to give consent for a phone conversation to be legally taped. Silverman alleges that he was taped without his consent.

In September, Silverman’s attorney Jeffrey Krinsk filed a class-action suit against Hiltzik. Shortly after the suit was announced, LA Times spokesperson Nancy Sullivan made a statement to the Courthouse News Service:

Mr. Hiltzik has not been served, but this is just another baseless lawsuit filed by Mr. Silverman. This time he is the plaintiff. Three other lawsuits he filed against the Los Angeles Times and its employees have been thrown out of court. We are confident that this latest vexatious lawsuit also will be thrown out.

That was a month ago, so perhaps the suit has already been thrown out. We’ve reached out to both Sullivan and Krinsk for comment, and will let you know what we find out.

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