By ANTHONY McCARTNEY
LOS ANGELES — LeAnn Rimes sued two women she claims illegally recorded a phone conversation with her and posted snippets online, one day after she sought professional help for anxiety and stress.
Rimes sued Kimberly Smiley and her adult daughter Lexi on Thursday, seeking more than $25,000 in damages for recording a March phone conversation that ended up online on websites bashing the country singer.
Kimberly Smiley denied she posted the recording, saying she shared it with online acquaintances, one of whom played it for the ex-wife of Rimes’ husband, Eddie Cibrian. “The whole thing is just ridiculous,” she said. “It’s just a celebrity who’s too full of herself.”
The invasion of privacy lawsuit came one day after Rimes, 30, entered an in-patient treatment facility in what her publicist Marcel Pariseau describes an attempt to “learn and develop coping mechanisms.”
Pariseau says Rimes isn’t seeking treatment for an eating disorder or substance abuse, adding that “while privacy isn’t expected, it’s certainly appreciated.”
The recorded phone call occurred because a friend of Rimes connected the singer and Smiley to try to stop some negative online postings, according to the lawsuit and an interview with Smiley.
It is illegal in California for a party to record a phone call without the other person’s knowledge.
“The making of the unauthorized recording and the posting of it and edited excerpts of it on various websites have resulted in a public and damaging depiction of Ms. Rimes, have harmed her reputation and personal relationships, and have caused her emotional distress,” the lawsuit states.
Rimes and Cibrian were married in April 2011 and their relationship has remained a subject of tabloid fascination.
Kimberly Smiley, who is a schoolteacher in Northern California, said she has been on the receiving end of bullying from Rimes’ supporters and has kept her Twitter and a YouTube post of the call on private settings. She said she shared the call with others but did not sell the recording, which she said her daughter made because of some “outrageous” things the singer was saying.
“I truly think this is a PR attempt to get people to think she’s been victimized,” she said.
Rimes’ lawsuit states the singer is entitled to triple her actual damages if she wins at trial, and she is also seeking punitive damages and an order blocking the recording from being distributed further. Smiley questioned how much Rimes would be able to actually collect and said she was embarrassed to be involved in the dustup.
Rimes is keeping her weekend tour commitments through September during breaks from treatment.