Apple may face suit over search for unreleased iPhone (scoop)

Lawyer for the 22-year-old San Francisco man who Apple linked to an unreleased iPhone says he's considering filing a lawsuit against the Cupertino company.

Cava22, the San Francisco bar where another unreleased iPhone went missing
Cava22, the San Francisco bar where another unreleased iPhone went missing. James Martin/CNET

Sergio Calderon, the 22-year-old San Francisco man who accused Apple employees of impersonating police officers while searching his house for an unreleased iPhone, has hired a lawyer.

David Monroe, an attorney in San Francisco, told CNET this evening that he is considering filing a lawsuit against Apple, but, for now, is still investigating what happened.

Based on what he's learned so far, Monroe said, the actions of Apple security personnel and San Francisco police are "outrageous." Apple declined to comment for this article.

Greg Sandoval/CNET

CNET reported on August 31 that Apple had enlisted San Francisco police for help in locating an unreleased phone that an employee had left at Cava 22, a Mission District tequila lounge, in late July. (The iPhone 5 is expected to be officially introduced tomorrow at 10 a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET at an event in Cupertino, Calif.)

Apple internal security told police that the device was priceless and the company was desperate to secure its safe return, then led police to a house in the Bernal Heights neighborhood of San Francisco.

One of the six people who visited Calderon's home said they would obtain a search warrant if he did not agree to let them in, according to two sources with knowledge of the event. Calderon then voluntarily submitted to what he claims he believed was a search by police officers, but in reality included Apple employees.

The San Francisco Police Department confirmed that their officers escorted Apple employees to Calderon's house but said that the only people to search his house, car, and computer were the two Apple employees. Lt. Troy Dangerfield, an SFPD spokesman, said that officers waited outside during the search.

Monroe confirmed this evening that his client, Calderon, had been at Cava 22 around the date the Apple phone disappeared.

"There's a question about what night," Monroe said. "I don't know what night they said something was taken from the bar, whether it was Friday or Saturday. He had been there that week but...I don't have anybody on the record as to which night it went missing."

Monroe said that even though he's only recently been hired by Calderon, he has studied similar cases involving police officers going along with private investigators to homes in order to keep the peace. He said he could find no other cases where officers interviewed a subject, acquired permission to enter a house, and then instead of entering themselves, allowed private citizens to perform the search.

Until recently, Monroe practiced law including commercial and business litigation in Houston, Texas. He was admitted to the California bar on August 23.

Monroe said that he has a long list of unanswered questions that he plans to pose to San Francisco police as well as Apple.

One question: How did Apple already know Calderon's first name when they and police showed up at his front door?

"We don't know much still," Monroe said. "I'll be taking that up with" Apple and the police.

Monroe said that if he doesn't receive cooperation from Apple and the police, then "we'll just file a lawsuit and get the information that way."

Monroe may find it hard to get cooperation from Jose Valle, whose family owns Cava 22, the bar where the iPhone went missing. Valle told CNET on Friday that the bar's surveillance video from late July was erased. The footage, which neither Apple nor the police appear to have obtained, might have provided some clues about what happened.

Calderon's new attorney provided some additional details about what Calderon and his family said occurred the day police and Apple investigators came to their home. Monroe said that there were quite a few people in the home at the time. According to Monroe, police and Apple investigators were in no hurry. They even asked Calderon to call his younger brother, who attends high school, to come home so he could be interviewed. Police and the Apple employees waited for the teenager to arrive.

"My focus is primarily on Apple. I'm trying to figure out why Apple did this," Monroe said.

 

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