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Surveilling With Intent to Harass

Posted: Fri Oct 03, 2014 1:18 pm
by Administrator
Surveilling With Intent to Harass

Summers v. Bailey, 55 F.3d 1564; 1995 U.S. App. LEXIS 15825 [11th Cir. 1995]
Surveillance of an individual on public thoroughfares, where such surveillance aimed to frighten or torment a person, was sufficient to state a cause of action for invasion of privacy. The court noted that ordinarily the surveillance of a person from a public thoroughfare or in a public place was not an invasion of privacy. However, where such surveillance was done with the intent to frighten or torment a person, there was an unreasonable intrusion upon a person's privacy. Traditionally, watching or observing a person in a public place is not an intrusion upon one's privacy. Courts have held that surveillance of an individual on public thoroughfares, where such surveillance aims to frighten or torment a person, is an unreasonable intrusion upon a person's privacy.

Pinkerton v. Stevens, 132 S.E.2d at 120
Overt and extended surveillance by detective agency on behalf of insurer, which frightened and harassed plaintiff, violated plaintiff's right of privacy.

Ellenberg v. Pinkerton's, Inc., 130 Ga. App. 254, 202 S.E.2d 701, 704 (1973)
Reasonable surveillance of residence from public road by insurance company is common method to obtain evidence to defend a lawsuit. "It is only when such is conducted in a vicious or malicious manner not reasonably limited and designated to obtain information needed for the defense of a lawsuit or deliberately calculated to frighten or torment the plaintiff, that the courts will not countenance it."

Aisenson v. American Broadcasting Co., 220 Cal. App. 3d 146, 163, 269 Cal. Rptr. 379 (1990).
An ABC camera crew videotaped a judge from a car parked across the street from his home. The video showed the judge in full public view leave his home and walk to his car. The court noted that the camera crew did not enter the judge's home, did not come into physical contact with the judge, and that the car and driveway where he was videotaped were in the public view. Similarly, here there was no invasion of privacy when plaintiff was videotaped receiving guests at his home and arriving and leaving his home.

Pueblo v. Figueroa Navarro, 104 D.P.R. 721 (1976)
A private investigator was found liable for invasion of privacy because of the intrusive and offensive manner in which the investigation was conducted. The investigator alarmed the plaintiff, who was the object of the surveillance, by driving past the home many times, pausing to look with binoculars, and then parking in front of the house and taking photographs. The Court found the detective liable because he "had a direct contact with the person under investigation." Id. at 726. Thus, this Court has interpreted Figueroa as standing for the proposition that, "a person does not violate the right to privacy as long as the conduct of the investigation is not 'ostensible and daring,' or unreasonably intrusive." Dopp v. Fairfax Consultants, Ltd., 771 F. Supp. 494, 497 (D.P.R. 1990) (Laffitte, J.).

J.H. Desnick v. American Broadcasting Cos., 44 F.3d 1345; 1995 U.S. App. LEXIS 454 [7th Cir. 1995]
Court affirmed the dismissal of a trespass action because the television network and journalists did not invade any property interests of the medical clinic by sending in test patients for undercover surveillance.

Smith v. Borough of Pottstown, 1997 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14544, CIVIL ACTION NO. 96-1941 [E.D. Pa. 1997]
The police officer contended that he was fired for identifying the sergeant as a potential suspect in an internal investigation concerning the theft of money. The officer also contended that defendants defamed him to potential employers and invaded his privacy by parking on his street and watching him at home. The court granted defendants' motion for judgment as a matter of law on the officer's claims because no legally sufficient evidence existed for a reasonable juror to find that defendants violated the officer's rights, defamed him, or invaded his privacy. Where police officers parked on public streets near the officer's home and the officer did not prove that they trespassed on his property or were not reasonably exercising police power, his invasion of privacy failed.

Wilkins v. National Broadcasting Co. Inc., 71 Cal. App. 4th 1066, 1078-79 (1999)
Videotaping a lunch meeting at an outdoor patio restaurant was not highly offensive to a reasonable person.

Dopp v. Fairfax Consultants, Ltd., 771 F. Supp. 494; 1990 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 19189, Civil No. 90-1690 HL, [D.C. P.R.]
The president of the company appeared as a witness in a case where the litigant was a party and testified that the company was retained to investigate whether there was a connection between the litigant and one of his witnesses. That was the first that the litigant knew of the investigation. The instant action followed. The court granted the motion to dismiss in part and denied it in part. The court held that: (1) where the litigant was not aware of the investigation until he was informed at trial, the litigant failed to state a claim for invasion of privacy under the rubric of unreasonable intrusion or public disclosure of private facts; (2) where the litigant admitted he did not know if he had been injured concerning his tortious invasion of privacy claim, the court determined the litigant's desire to conduct discovery was a waste of judicial resources; (3) where the litigant's claim that his reputation was maligned was too ambiguous and vague, the court ordered the litigant to amend the count within 20 days such that the company and employee could frame a responsive pleading; and (4) the litigant's claim of tortious interference with civil litigation bordered on frivolous.

Video surveillance does not in itself violate a reasonable expectation of privacy. Sacramento County Deputy Sheriffs' Assoc. v. County of Sacramento, 51 Cal. App. 4th 1468, 1484 (1996). The intrusiveness of videotaping depends on the circumstances. Sacramento County Deputy Sheriffs' Assoc. v. County of Sacramento, 51 Cal. App. 4th 1468, 1483-84 (1996). In Sacramento, the court held there was no offensive conduct when a video camera was placed in a non-private office in a jail to observe possible criminal acts by deputy sheriffs. See Id. at 1487. The court stated that even assuming the videotaping was highly intrusive, the intrusiveness was abated by the absence of audio capabilities. Furthermore, the court held the defendant's objectives were lawful and the intrusion took place in a non-private place.

Glaros v. Perse, 628 F.2d 679, 684 (1st Cir. 1980).
In a case allegedly involving surveillance, we do not think it is unrealistic or unfair to expect a plaintiff to describe briefly in his complaint the activities of each defendant said to have surveilled him and how his constitutional rights were impinged upon. Indeed, this is necessary to stating a claim because all surveillance is not per se violative of constitutional rights. Also, see International Union v. Garner, 601 F.Supp. 187 (M.D. Tenn. 1985).