The defendants moved for summary judgment on grounds that courts have ruled in the past that there is no legitimate expectation of privacy in cases involving known stolen property.They asserted that Clements-Jeffrey should have known the laptop was stolen based in part on the price the seller was asking for it and on the fact that the serial number had been scraped off the bottom of the machine.In the course of their courtship, she exchanged sexually explicit email and instant messages with her beau, using the computer she had just purchased.

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Clements-Jeffrey, however, asserted she never noticed the missing serial number and had no reason to doubt the asking price for the two-year-old machine, since the computer had been wiped clean of software before she bought it.

She said Absolute had a right to collect her IP address in an effort to track the laptop, but that it broke the law when it intercepted her communications to track her and then passed those images to police.

Another student at Kiefer Alternative School subsequently purchased the laptop at a bus station for $40, even though he suspected it was stolen, and turned around and offered it to Clements-Jeffrey for $60.

Clements-Jeffrey, who was a long-term substitute teacher at Kiefer, says the student told her his aunt and uncle had given him the laptop, but that he no longer needed it after getting a new one.The company cited its agreement with the school district, which gives Absolute's staff "the ability to view and recover any files that are present" on the school's computers.But the school district has asserted that it never knew this meant that Absolute would intercept communications that a suspected thief might have with third parties.The judge ultimately ruled that although Absolute might have had a noble purpose in assisting the school district in recovering its laptop, "a reasonable jury could find that they crossed an impermissible boundary."According to Absolute's web site, it recovers on average 14 laptops a day.Asked if the company's agents have changed the way they operate in light of the lawsuit, Absolute spokesman Stephen Midgley declined to respond.According to court documents, in June 2008 Magnus began recording Clements-Jeffrey's keystrokes and monitoring her web surfing.