A Woman Sues Phone Company After Her Affair is Exposed
A Toronto woman says the billing practices of Rogers Wireless Inc. led to her husband discovering her extramarital affair.
Now the woman, whose husband walked out, is suing the communications giant for $600,000 for alleged invasion of privacy and breach of contract, the results of which she says have ruined her life.
In 2007, Gabriella Nagy had a cellphone account with Rogers which sent the monthly bill to her home address in her maiden name. Her husband was the account holder for the family's cable TV service at the same address. Around June 4, 2007, he called Rogers to add internet and home phone.
The following month, Rogers mailed a “global” invoice for all of its services to the matrimonial home that included an itemized bill for Nagy's cellular service, according to the statement of claim filed in Ontario Superior Court of Justice.
When Nagy’s husband opened the Rogers invoice, he saw several hour-long phone calls to a single phone number.
“Nobody does business this way and he's not stupid,” says Nagy, who is in her 30s. He called the number, spoke to the “third party” who confirmed the affair, which had lasted only a few weeks, Nagy told the Star.
“My husband didn't tell me that's how he found out, he just left.”
“The husband used the previously private and confidential information that the defendant unilaterally disclosed to the husband to inquire about the people that the plaintiff was telephoning and the nature of such calls,” the statement of claim says.
The statement alleges Rogers “unilaterally terminated its cellular contract with the plaintiff that had been in her maiden name and included it in the husband’s account that was under his surname.
“The plaintiff’s maiden name and the husband's surname were different. Such unilateral action by the defendant was done without the knowledge, information, belief, acquiescence or approval of the plaintiff.”
In a statement of defence, Rogers denies it terminated the contract and says the company "cannot be held responsible for the condition of the marriage, for the plaintiff's affair and consequential marriage break-up, nor the effects the break-up has had on her.
“Rogers is not the cause of these. The marriage break-up and its effects happened, or alternatively would in any event have happened, regardless of the form in which the plaintiff and her husband received their invoices for Rogers services in July 2007.”
Rogers acknowledges it “consolidated the invoicing of the various services being provided to the plaintiff and her husband” so that one monthly invoice would be sent to their home. “Apart from administrative efficiency, doing so would result in savings to the plaintiff and her husband for the services.”
Nagy is deeply embarrassed and ashamed about what happened. “It was a mistake,” she said of the affair. “But I didn’t deserve to lose my life over it.”
After her husband left her and their two children, ages 6 and 7, she was so distraught her work performance suffered and she lost her job as an apartment rental agent that had paid her almost $100,000 until she was let go in Oct. 10, 2007. “The plaintiff wept uncontrollably at her workplace . . . and became incapable of performing her employment duties,” reads the statement of claim. Nagy says the employer was aware of the situation and that she was receiving medical attention.
Nagy’s lawyer, Edward Tonello, says this case is unprecedented in Canada.
“In Ontario, we don’t have a privacy act, unlike British Columbia and other provinces.”
Nagy discovered how her husband found out after Rogers left her a voicemail, in late August 2007, advising that it was about to terminate her cellular services because of unpaid invoices. That’s when she learned Rogers had terminated her account in her maiden name and included it in the global account. Rogers says the invoice was sent to “Ms.” and her husband’s surname.
When she confronted her husband, he said, “Thank god for the Rogers bill. Had it not come bundled in my cable service I would never known. That’s the only way,” Nagy says. She asked that his name not be included in the story to spare him further embarrassment. His name does not appear in the court filing.
“I lost everything,” she says. “I want others to know what a big corporation has done. I trusted Rogers with my personal information. We had a contract — and agreement that put my life right in their hands.”
After she terminated her relationship with the “third party” in August 2007, the jilted lover, himself a married father of three, called Rogers and obtained her secret password to her voicemail and used it to access it to harass her and taunt the husband, the statement of claim alleges.
As well, she alleges Rogers disconnected her cellular service in January 2009 and said her cellular phone was being invoiced to her husband's account. The wrongdoing that occurred in 2007 reoccurred, the statement says noting she subsequently switched to another cellular service provider.