12:31pm PT by Eriq Gardner
Shaquille O'Neal Sues Former IT Guy Claiming Stolen Emails
Celebrities better be careful about the IT experts they hire to take care of their tech needs. Perhaps they can learn from Shaquille O'Neal, who has filed a lawsuit against a man he accuses of prying open his e-mail and attempting to sell it on the open market.
Shaq is suing Shawn Darling, a Florida man who worked as his IT specialist dating back to 2007. Shaq says he hired the man not knowing he was convicted of a felony for bank fraud.
According to the claims filed in Miami circuit court, Darling was tasked with many jobs, including setting up his computer and audio systems, storing electronic communications, and registering a domain, Big32.com, for Shaq.
As part of these efforts, Darling requested and got Shaq's passwords, which he then allegedly used outside his employment to access Shaq's private e-mails. Darling then sold the communications to a website, which published several articles damaging Shaq's reputation, according to the lawsuit.
In August 2010, Darling's attorney is said to have threatened Shaq with further use of the electronic communications if $12 million wasn't paid.
Shaq is said to have refused to pay up.
The following month, Darling filed his own lawsuit against Shaq, accusing the basketball pro of being the one responsible for computer hacking.
Alleging emotional distress, invasion of privacy and racketeering, Darling claimed that Shaq hacked into the voicemails of ex-lovers, used his connections with law enforcement to frame Darling for a criminal offense, and attempted to erase digital evidence of affairs by doing things like throwing a computer into a lake.
Shaq is now mounting a counterattack in his new lawsuit with claims that Darling violated statutes prohibiting the interception of electronic communications, breached fiduciary duty, disclosed private facts, and committed fraud. He's seeking injunctive relief and further damages.
Just two weeks ago, Shaq beat in court another former associate who was claimed to have tried to blackmail him over a supposed sex tape. Now he's in court over e-mail allegedly used for blackmail purposes. Shaq should keep an eye on the company he keeps.