At the center of a lawsuit against radio personality Howard Stern is a weird situation in which his show apparently aired a private phone call between a taxpayer and the Internal Revenue Service.
TMZ.com reports that Judith Barrigas filed a federal lawsuit over the May 2015 incident, naming Stern, “The Howard Stern Show” and the U.S. as defendants.
“According to the suit … she called the IRS to discuss a pending tax case. The agent Barrigas spoke to — Jimmy Forsythe — had called into the ‘Stern Show’ as a listener and was on hold … while he took her call,” TMZ reports. “She says ‘Stern Show’ producers overheard her convo with Forsythe and decided to put it on the air to 1.2 million listeners — essentially eavesdropping on her very private and sensitive phone call.”
The phone call revealed “tons of personal information,” TMZ notes.
The report adds: “Barrigas says she immediately got a barrage of harassing phone calls and texts … as she had mentioned her phone number during the call with Forsythe.”
The New York Post’s Page Six notes that Barrigas and Forsythe “spoke for almost 45 minutes on May 19, 2015, about a potential misapplication of her tax refund in 2014. It appeared the agency had applied her refund to outstanding liabilities from 2011 and 2012, even though she already had a repayment agreement in place.”
The Post notes that it is unclear why Forsythe had called in to the show, or how his conversation with Barrigas on a different line wound up on the show. “Perhaps the lines got crossed, or perhaps he used two different phones and the first picked up audio from the second,” The Post reports. “Either way, the producers at ‘The Howard Stern Show’ found themselves listening to the private call between Forsythe and Barrigas.”