18 U.S.C. § 2520 - U.S. Code - Unannotated Title 18. Crimes and Criminal Procedure § 2520. Recovery of civil damages authorized
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In general.--Except as provided in section 2511(2)(a)(ii), any person whose wire, oral, or electronic communication is intercepted, disclosed, or intentionally used in violation of this chapter may in a civil action recover from the person or entity, other than the United States, which engaged in that violation such relief as may be appropriate.
Relief.--In an action under this section, appropriate relief includes--
such preliminary and other equitable or declaratory relief as may be appropriate;
damages under subsection (c) and punitive damages in appropriate cases; and
a reasonable attorney's fee and other litigation costs reasonably incurred.
Computation of damages.-- In an action under this section, if the conduct in violation of this chapter is the private viewing of a private satellite video communication that is not scrambled or encrypted or if the communication is a radio communication that is transmitted on frequencies allocated under subpart D of part 74 of the rules of the Federal Communications Commission that is not scrambled or encrypted and the conduct is not for a tortious or illegal purpose or for purposes of direct or indirect commercial advantage or private commercial gain, then the court shall assess damages as follows:
If the person who engaged in that conduct has not previously been enjoined under section 2511(5) and has not been found liable in a prior civil action under this section, the court shall assess the greater of the sum of actual damages suffered by the plaintiff, or statutory damages of not less than $50 and not more than $500.
If, on one prior occasion, the person who engaged in that conduct has been enjoined under section 2511(5) or has been found liable in a civil action under this section, the court shall assess the greater of the sum of actual damages suffered by the plaintiff, or statutory damages of not less than $100 and not more than $1000.
In any other action under this section, the court may assess as damages whichever is the greater of--
the sum of the actual damages suffered by the plaintiff and any profits made by the violator as a result of the violation; or
statutory damages of whichever is the greater of $100 a day for each day of violation or $10,000.
Defense.--A good faith reliance on--
a court warrant or order, a grand jury subpoena, a legislative authorization, or a statutory authorization;
a request of an investigative or law enforcement officer under section 2518(7) of this title; or
a good faith determination that section 2511(3) or 2511(2)(i) of this title permitted the conduct complained of;
is a complete defense against any civil or criminal action brought under this chapter or any other law.
Limitation.--A civil action under this section may not be commenced later than two years after the date upon which the claimant first has a reasonable opportunity to discover the violation.
Administrative discipline.--If a court or appropriate department or agency determines that the United States or any of its departments or agencies has violated any provision of this chapter, and the court or appropriate department or agency finds that the circumstances surrounding the violation raise serious questions about whether or not an officer or employee of the United States acted willfully or intentionally with respect to the violation, the department or agency shall, upon receipt of a true and correct copy of the decision and findings of the court or appropriate department or agency promptly initiate a proceeding to determine whether disciplinary action against the officer or employee is warranted. If the head of the department or agency involved determines that disciplinary action is not warranted, he or she shall notify the Inspector General with jurisdiction over the department or agency concerned and shall provide the Inspector General with the reasons for such determination.
Improper disclosure is violation.--Any willful disclosure or use by an investigative or law enforcement officer or governmental entity of information beyond the extent permitted by section 2517 is a violation of this chapter for purposes of section 2520(a).
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