The creator of an American line of plush robotic hamster toys called Zhu Zhu Pets is suing a man who he hired to market his products, alleging the former employee illegally recorded management conversations during company meetings.
Russ Hornsby’s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit alleges invasion of privacy and violation of the state Penal Code. Named as defendants are Jason Matthew Eddy and his wife, Jaime Eddy. The suit filed Friday seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages as well as an injunction enjoining the Eddys from distributing the allegedly unauthorized recordings.
The Eddys could not be immediately reached for comment.
Hornsby is the owner and chief executive officer of St. Louis-based Cepia LLC, who created Zhu Zhu Pets in 2008. He hired Eddy, who had a background in marketing toys, in April 2012 and allowed the defendant to work from an office in Santa Monica, according to the lawsuit.
Hornsby and Eddy often met to discuss ongoing and future projects, the suit states.
“Mr. Eddy would occasionally audio-record these discussions using his mobile phone to capture Mr. Hornsby’s creative ideas,” according to the lawsuit. “After the meetings, Mr. Eddy would sometimes distribute the recordings to various project managers within the company.”
Hornsby “lost confidence” in Eddy and fired him in January 2015, the suit states.
“Mr. Hornsby discovered that Mr. Eddy’s practice of making recordings extended beyond mere capturing creative ideas and that Mr. Eddy had been recording telephonic conversations between and amongst himself and plaintiffs,” according to the complaint.
In February and June 2014, Eddy used a device in recording business matters Hornsby initiated with other Cepia employees without consent and Eddy’s wife may have been involved in both actions, the suit states.
The suit further alleges that Eddy may also have secretly taped other Cepia phone conversations, but it is unknown how many of them still exist or whether they are still in the possession of the Eddys, the suit states.
The suit does not offer a explanation of what the Eddys allegedly did or plan to do with the recordings.
Zhu Zhu Pets were a hot toy during the 2009 holiday season, sometimes selling for more than $60.
—City News Service