Ruling On July 19
Trial Here In Dec.
BY KEN LITTLE
The ruling by U.S. Magistrate Judge William B. Mitchell Carter in the federal civil lawsuit brought by James Roy Klumb against his ex-wife, Greeneville attorney Crystal Goan Hawk, includes a detailed chronology of their relationship and an explanation of how Judge Carter reached his decision in Klumb's favor. between Klumb and his wife, who is referred to in the case and the ruling as Crystal Goan. He a
The lawsuit was tried in December 2011 in a bench trial in U.S. District Court in Greeneville. The judge's ruling in the case was filed on Thursday, July 19.
In the 46-page document, he details key aspects of the relationship lso explains how he arrived at his decision that she illegally wiretapped two computers used by her husband.
The judge wrote that because of the "elaborate nature of the allegations" and the fact that Klumb was seeking punitive damages, "The court has been required to focus a wide lens on the parties' conduct and consider behavior beyond simply wiretapping."
"The result is the regrettable and unavoidable airing of dirty laundry," Carter wrote.
MET IN 2003
The ruling states that Klumb and Goan met in the summer of 2003, between Goan's first and second years of law school at the University of Memphis, when she was hired to work in the Greeneville office of Klumb Lumber Company (KLC).
The KLC business is based in Mississippi, where the family has other holdings. Roy Klumb "is a wealthy man" with two children from a previous marriage, Carter wrote.
Klumb and Goan began dating in the summer of 2004, when Goan, a Bulls Gap native, came back to Greeneville from college. They continued to see each other when she returned to the University of Memphis for her final year of law school.
"The relationship appears to have been fraught with concerns of fidelity from the very beginning," Carter wrote. ""Roy was overly possessive, frequently calling Crystal to ask where she was and what she was doing."
Goan, who knew that Klumb's first marriage ended, in part, "due to infidelity, was fearful that his previous dating relationships had not ended," Carter wrote.
Goan graduated from law school and moved to Greeneville in 2005, and began working at a law firm. She and Klumb continued dating and were married in April 2006.
"Unfortunately, (Klumb's and Goan's) relationship both before and after their marriage was severely strained," Carter wrote.
One of the reasons was that Klumb "often drank excessively," Carter wrote. One night in Memphis before the couple was married, "Crystal ended up with a black eye," the judge wrote.
"Crystal, on the other hand, worried obsessively about whether Roy was being faithful," the ruling states.
Before they married, Klumb and Goan discussed a prenuptial agreement.
"Most of Roy's assets were in the family business, KLC, and in the partnership with his siblings, and he wanted to protect those assets in the event the marriage failed," Carter wrote.
Klumb allowed Goan to draft the prenuptial agreement.
Five days before their marriage on April 29, 2006, Goan went to the KLC office with two copies. The couple sat in the office "and reviewed one of the copies line by line."
Klumb found the agreement satisfactory, initialed each page, and then signed it, Carter wrote.
"(Goan) then handed him the second copy, which he initialed and signed as well," Carter wrote. "Since he believed the second prenuptial agreement to be an exact replica of the first, he did not read it line by line."
The judge's ruling explains, however, that, unknown to Klumb, Goan had slightly altered the text of the second copy of the prenuptial agreement to provide that, if either party to the marriage was unfaithful, the agreement would be null and void, all assets acquired before the marriage would be treated as marital assets, and the injured party would receive three-fourths of the marital assets in the divorce.
Klumb stored the first copy of the agreement in a lock box in KLC's Mississippi office. "(Goan) took the second copy, which Roy had not read, to another office to be notarized," Judge Carter wrote.
Goan purchased a spyware program called eBlaster from the Spectorsoft company in March 2006, before she married Klumb in April, trial testimony showed.
eBlaster is a computer software program that can perform a variety of spyware functions, Carter wrote, including automatically forwarding copies of incoming email to one computer to a third-party email address.
The eBlaster program is very difficult to detect on a computer, Carter wrote.
Goan "surreptitiously installed" eBlaster in June 2006 on a computer owned by KLC that was used by Klumb in his office.
When the computer was replaced about one year later, Goan purchased a second eBlaster software package and installed it on the new computer in June 2007, Carter wrote.
Through 2007, a combination of factors, including Klumb's drinking and Goan's "suspicions of Roy's fidelity," led to a continued deterioration of the marriage, Carter wrote.
Klumb lied to Goan about having dinner in August of that year with a female friend during a trip to Mississippi. Goan conducted an affair with Greeneville attorney Todd Shelton that began in the fall of 2007 and lasted until 2008, according to the ruling.
On Sept. 21, 2007, Goan had Klumb served with divorce papers and a temporary restraining order forcing him out of their home.
A week later, Goan told Klumb that, if he would go to alcohol rehabilitation, "she would give their marriage another try," Carter wrote.
"They discussed the conditions under which such an attempt would take place and decided to memorialize their agreement in an Agreed Order which they would submit to the court in their divorce case," the judge wrote.
The couple met the next day and both signed the Agreed Order. They traveled together to the rehabilitation facility in Florida; then Goan returned to Greeneville.
SUSPECT EMAIL PRINTED
During the several weeks while Klumb was at the rehabilitation facility, Goan was seen using a computer in the KLC sales office about "3 to 4 a.m." by a delivery driver.
When the driver notified the office administrator, the administrator shut down the administrative computer at the end of the work day, effectively turning off all printers in the office overnight.
After the computer system was turned on again the next morning, one of the printers printed an email to Goan from Spectorsoft that had originated as an email to Klumb from a woman referred to in the ruling as "R.G."
The administrator put the email in a folder and gave it to Klumb when he returned from the rehabilitation facility on Oct. 27, 2007.
"To his surprise, his wife did not receive him warmly," Carter wrote.
When Klumb went back to work, employees told him what they had seen, including a salesman who looked at Goan's email inbox when she was working in the office and saw Klumb's name with "eBlaster" next to it.
Klumb was "in shock" after learning about the apparent presence of spyware on his computer, according to trial testimony.
He was informed through Goan's lawyer on Oct. 30, 2007, that she wanted him to "leave the house," and he moved to a Greeneville hotel.
When confronted, Goan angrily denied installing the eBlaster software on Klumb's computer, the ruling states.
Klumb hired a private investigator to investigate allegation's of Goan's affair with Shelton, who acknowledged the relationship in testimony in December at the trial.
After KLC information technology employees could not locate eBlaster on any of the KLC computers, Klumb hired a forensic computer expert from Knoxville, who also examined Goan's laptop computer that was eventually obtained during the discovery phase of the lawsuit.
His examination of the KLC computers used by Klumb "showed that when (Goan) installed eBlaster on them, she set up the program to send a report of all computer activities to her email address," Carter wrote.
"She also directed that a copy of every email sent to Roy Klumb at his personal AOL email account and accessed from (Klumb's) computers be sent automatically to her email address."
Several emails in late September 2007 between Klumb and a woman friend of his who is a nurse, discussing possible locations where he could go for alcohol rehabilitation, included "additional language" added by Goan, the ruling stated.
The first email "offers to help (Klumb) find a rehabilitation clinic and expresses her sadness at Roy's pending divorce" but "it is not indicative of an extramarital affair," Judge Carter wrote.
However, a second version of the email was found by the forensic computer expert "which suggests they were having an extramarital affair," Carter wrote.
Two other emails were similarly altered, according to the ruling.
"At trial, (Goan) offered no explanation for the differences in content of the various versions of the three September 2007 emails," Carter wrote.
He added that he concludes from the evidence that Goan intercepted the emails "and added the extra language to make it appear (the nurse and Klumb) were having an affair."
Carter said that he relied on interpretations of the federal Wiretap Act because there is a "dearth of Tennessee law" interpreting the state Wiretap Act, which is identical to the federal law.
"Ample evidence presented at trial" shows that Goan "intentionally and automatically intercepted emails sent to (Klumb) through the Internet" when Klumb opened them on his computers.
"Accordingly, the court concludes (Goan) violated the federal and Tennessee wiretap acts," Carter wrote.
CONFLICT OF TESTIMONY
The divorce between Goan and Klumb was finalized in January 2009, the document states.
Goan testified at trial that, as part of their divorce settlement, Klumb agreed to waive his wiretapping claims in exchange for Goan receiving "a smaller monetary settlement," Carter wrote.
But Klumb testified that "he explicitly told his lawyer and the mediator he would not settle his wiretapping claims because he fully intended to pursue them," the ruling continued.
Ultimately, Carter questioned Goan's credibility and her version of events.
But he wrote that he also took into consideration the conduct of Klumb during the marriage in considering the question of punitive damages, particularly alcohol abuse "which caused him to be physically and verbally abusive."
During and after the divorce proceedings, Carter wrote that Klumb "engaged in behavior which can only be described as harassment of (Goan)," including "incendiary" text messages and times he "popped up in places around town where (Goan) could be found."
The behavior "bordered on stalking," Carter wrote.
A Circuit Court order of protection entered in January 2012 on Goan's behalf remains in effect for a year.
'CLEAR AND CONVINCING'
Judge Carter wrote that if he had to rely "primarily on the testimony of either party, it would be very difficult to reach a conclusion about (Klumb's) conduct."
Carter stated that Goan's testimony "is so contradictory to the forensic and documentary evidence and so inconsistent with her previous statements as to render her testimony at trial completely incredible."
But, he continued, there is "clear and convincing" evidence from sources other than Goan and Klumb indicating Goan did engage in "egregious conduct."
That evidence, he said, included the forensic computer examination of the KLC computers and Goan's laptop computer, along with documentary evidence from Goan produced under subpoena, testimony of other witnesses, and two recorded phone conversations in September 2007 between Goan and Klumb.
'ONE LOGICAL CONCLUSION'
"All this evidence considered as a whole leads to only one logical conclusion: (that Goan) engaged in a concerted scheme to gain advantage over (Klumb) in a divorce," Carter wrote in explaining his decision to award the $10,000 punitive damages to Klumb.
Goan did so by "tricking (Klumb) into signing an altered prenuptial agreement with a provision that rendered the prenuptial agreement null and void in the event (Klumb) committed adultery," and by "secretly substituting a page in the Sept. 27, 2007, agreed order with different pages that contained a provision making (Klumb's) premarital assets part of the marital assets and forfeiting three-fourths of those assets to (Goan) if the plaintiff committed adultery," Carter wrote.
Goan furthered the scheme "by secretly installing eBlaster on the computers regularly used by (Klumb) and "by secretly intercepting" at least three emails sent to Klumb by a woman in Mississippi and altering them to look like the woman and Klumb were having an affair, Carter wrote.
Goan also intended to use the altered emails, the altered prenuptial agreement and the altered September 2007 Agreed Order "to obtain a significant amount of (Klumb's) property, to which she was not entitled in a divorce from (him)," Carter wrote.
"The court concludes the only reason this plan was not successful was that (Goan) was unable to keep eBlaster a secret," Carter wrote.
"Once eBlaster was discovered, (Klumb) launched into an investigation which uncovered (Goan's) conduct.
"This conduct on the part of (Goan) was extreme and outrageous and merits punitive damages," Carter wrote.