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Fed judge's ruling would gut Pa. spyware lawsuit

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 7, 2014 at 1:10 pm •  Published: February 7, 2014

ERIE, Pa. (AP) — A federal magistrate in Pennsylvania has recommended against class-action status for a lawsuit filed over spyware installed on computers leased from furniture renter Aaron's Inc.

If accepted by a federal judge, the recommendation would mean the lawsuit would be reduced to the original claim filed by Crystal and Brian Byrd, of Casper, Wyo.

The couple's attorneys have since claimed hundreds of customers were victimized as Aaron's allegedly collected 185,000 emails containing sensitive information — including pictures of nude children and people having sex — from customers. The Byrds sued Atlanta-based Aaron's in Pennsylvania because the company that made the software, DesignerWare, is from North East, Pa.

Attorneys for both sides have until Feb. 14 to object to U.S. Magistrate Susan Paradise Baxter's Jan. 31 recommendation, which was first reported Friday by the Erie Times-News. After that, a federal judge can accept, reject or modify the recommendations.

Frederick Longer, a Philadelphia attorney helping to represent the Byrds, said he intends to appeal if the magistrate's recommendation is accepted by the court.

"The fight for consumers who were spied up on by Aaron's Inc. and its franchise stores is far from over," Longer said. "We intend to appeal the court's decision, which does show that Aaron's secretly invaded customers' privacy without their knowledge or consent."

Aaron's spokesman, Garet Hayes, said the company has a policy of not commenting on litigation.

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