In Pulte Homes, Inc. v. Laborers Int'l Union of North America, after a home building company allegedly terminated eight employees for pro-union activity, the employees' union encouraged its supporters to inundate the e-mail and phone systems of the employer's sales offices and executives with thousands of messages in support of the discharged workers. The calls and e-mails overloaded and bogged down both the company's e-mail and voicemail systems, and prevented customers from reaching the company and employees from accessing e-mails and voicemails.
Pulte sued the union, alleging several state tort claims and violations of the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act ("CFAA") and moved to enjoin the union's e-mail and phone campaign. The trial court dismissed the lawsuit and Pulte appealed the dismissal of the CFAA claims. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the lower court and held that the company adequately stated a "transmission" claim under the CFAA, i.e., that the union "knowingly cause[d] the transmission of a program, information, code or command, and as a result of such conduct, intentionally cause[d] damage without authorization, to a protected computer." The court found that the two key elements of the claim, damages and intent, were satisfied: the diminished ability to send and receive calls and e-mails was sufficient damage to the company, and the company alleged that the union had the conscious purpose of causing damage to the company's computer system. The Court remanded the case for a jury trial.