An Austin firm filed a motion to compel on March 2, trying to learn the “true identity” of “the unknown person or persons” who allegedly “hijacked” the phone number of its Fort Worth office.
Personal-injury and criminal-defense firm Dunham & Jones sued a defendant Feb. 16 , alleging its phone number was transferred without its permission to a new Internet phone provider, magicJack, causing client-attorney privileged messages to enter a voicemail box the firm didn’t control, according to the firm’s original petition. Dunham & Jones got its phone number back a couple of days later.
According to the March 2 motion in Dunham & Jones f/k/a The Dunham Law Firm v. Theresa Palmer, the firm learned that its phone number was transferred to magicJack at the request of someone who created a magicJack account under the name “Theresa Palmer.” In response to a subpoena, magicJack provided the IP address used to create the account, plus the name, address and email address submitted to magicJack by the person who opened the account.
But, the motion notes, “magicJack cannot confirm whether that account information was genuine or whether it was false information used to disguise the real identify of the person or person(s) who created the magicJack account.”
The motion says that, to learn the identity of the person responsible for transferring the number without the firm’s consent, the firm needs a court order to compel Charter Communications Inc., a telephone and Internet service provider, to release records identifying the entity or person assigned to the IP address associated with the transfer. The motion notes the firm subpoenaed Charter for the information, but the company objected and argued the federal Cable Communications Act prevents it from releasing the information without “written consent from the subscriber or a court order.”
The motion notes the firm “is serving a copy of this motion . . . to the email and postal address provided.” The firm’s lawyer in the suit, Pete Kennedy, declines comment on whether anyone responded. Kennedy, shareholder in Graves, Dougherty, Hearon & Moody in Austin, didn’t respond to a request for further comment.
No one returned a message sent to the email address listed in the motion or responded to a message left at the telephone number listed in a public-records search for the address provided in the motion.
magicJack CEO Dan Borislow says he’s never seen a case where “a number got discombobulated like this.” When magicJack learned about the incident, the company immediately arranged to switch the number back to the firm, he says, adding, “We hope they catch this person. . . .”
Charter Communications spokeswoman Anita Lamont declines comment.
-- Angela Morris