Hacked emails ruled off limits in Ashley Madison lawsuit

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Last summer, hackers dumped Ashley Madison's user database online, exposing the personal information of people who had signed up in search of an affair.

TORONTO — Lawyers representing former Ashley Madison users who are suing the company for last summer’s data breach can’t use leaked internal emails and documents to make their case, a Missouri judge has ruled.

In an April 29 order, judge John Ross ruled in favour of a motion from Ashley Madison parent company Avid Life Media Inc.’s lawyers, who argued that citing the leaked documents would be unethical and harmful to users whose privacy was breached. Ross also prohibited plaintiffs’ counsel from referring to media reports quoting the leaked documents.

“However distasteful it may be that some of the email communications between Avid and its counsel may show wrongful or inappropriate conduct, the Court cannot and will not allow Plaintiffs to take advantage of the work of hackers to access documents outside the context of formal discovery,” Ross wrote in the order. “To do so would taint these proceedings and, if left unremedied, potentially undermine the integrity of the judicial process.”

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