COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - The South Carolina Supreme Court has ruled a man's privacy was not violated when his wife's daughter-in-law managed to get into his email and find out the name of his lover because the messages remained in his inbox.
In their unanimous ruling Wednesday, the justices decided the woman did not violate a 1986 federal law about email storage and ruled a lawsuit from the husband could not go forward.
But the justices also pointed out that just because they ruled the woman didn't violate the husband's privacy, it didn't mean they liked what she did.
"This should in no way be read as condoning her behavior," Associate Justice Kaye Hearn wrote in her opinion.
The case started when M. Lee Jennings' wife found a card for flowers for another woman in his car. He admitted he was in love with the other woman, but would not give her name.
Jennings' wife turned to Holly Broome, who was married to her son from a previous marriage. Broome once worked for Jennings and was able to guess the answer to his security question and access his email.
She printed out the emails between Jennings and the other woman, giving copies to his wife's divorce attorney and a private investigator.
Broome's lawyer said it wasn't a good idea to go snooping in the email, but he is glad the Supreme Court interpreted the law the way it was written.
"All she was trying to do was help her mother-in-law and it blew up in her face," attorney Gary Popwell Jr. said. "She's now had to spend all this time worrying."
Jennings' lawyer did not return a message seeking comment.