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Chicago Federal Judge Dismisses Warrantless Surveillance Class Action Against AT&T Agreeing With Defense That State Secrets Privilege Applies: Class Action Defense News

On July 21st, we posted an article concerning Hepting v. AT&T Corp., ___ F.Supp.2d ___ (N.D. Cal. July 20, 2006), where a San Francisco federal district court refused to dismiss a putative class action against AT&T for its participation in the government’s warrantless surveillance program. In part, the California federal court rejected a defense argument by AT&T and the federal government (which had intervened in the putative class action) that the claims were barred by the state secrets privilege. Adam Liptak of the New York Times reports today that on July 25th a Chicago federal court dismissed similar claim against AT&T believing that the two decisions were not necessarily inconsistent. Liptak summarizes the Illinois decision as explaining that “The Chicago case concerns records of phone calls, including when they are placed, how long they lasted and the phone numbers involved. The San Francisco case, by contrast, mainly concerns an N.S.A. program aimed not at a vast sweep of customers’ records but at the contents of a more limited number of communications.”

Mr. Liptak’s article, entitled “Judge Rejects Customer Suit Over Records From AT&T,” may be found in the July 26, 2006 edition of the New York Times.