The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Van Alstyne vs. Electronic Scriptorium that the plaintiff must prove real harm has been done if she wants to receive statutory damages under the federal Stored Communications Act. The case revolves around an employer's theft of an employee's personal e-mails implicating him in a sexual-harassment charge. However, the court also ruled that proof of actual damages is not required for recovering punitive damages or attorneys' fees.

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