OMAHA, Neb. – An Omaha man has filed a lawsuit accusing his ex-wife and former father-in-law of hiding a recording device inside his daughter's teddy bear in order to spy on him.
The lawsuit filed last week in U.S. District Court in Omaha claims Dianna Divingnzzo and her father, Sam Divingnzzo, tried to use the audio recorded by the toy in the divorced couple's custody case.
Dianna Divingnzzo had been awarded sole custody of the young girl when the couple divorced in May 2004, but William Duane Lewton was seeking custody rights.
The lawsuit says Lewton learned about the audio recordings when his attorney was given copies by Divingnzzo's then-attorney in advance of a June hearing.
Lewton's attorney, John Kinney, said Tuesday that it's believed the teddy bear recorded several hundred hours of conversations from just before Christmas 2007 through mid-May.
Lewton, his daughter — who is now 5 — and five other plaintiffs who were recorded by the bear are requesting a jury trial. They seek $20,000 each, plus other damages and court costs, from each defendant for invasion of privacy and violation of state and federal wiretapping laws.
In addition to the Divingnzzos, the lawsuit names Dianna Divingnzzo's former attorney, William Bianco; his law partner, Chris Perrone; and their Omaha law firm.
Perrone said Tuesday that the firm no longer represents Dianna Divingnzzo. He also said he and Bianco did not know about the recordings until Divingnzzo presented them.
"We had nothing to do with it," he said. "We did not advise her to do so."
But according to the lawsuit, Bianco consulted with Perrone about the legality of the recordings and determined they would be admissible in court.
During a June 3 hearing in the custody case in which the recordings were discussed, Judge David K. Arterburn ruled that they violated Nebraska's wiretapping law and couldn't be used as evidence.
No telephone number was listed for Dianna Divingnzzo. A message left at a number for Sam Divingnzzo of Papillion was not returned.