Paralegal Essentials – Tort Law (Part 7 – Invasion of Privacy)

Several torts address an invasion of the right to privacy.  A person has a right to solitude and freedom from prying public eyes or what is commonly known as “privacy”.

The torts break down differently in different states and some states have passed statutes, but basically, there are 4 types of invasion of privacy torts:

  1. Appropriation of name or likeness – the use by one person or another’s name, likeness, or other identifying characteristic, without permission and for the benefit of the user.   This is wrongful conduct because a person has the exclusive use of his or her own identity.
  2. Unreasonable intrusion – this includes such things as flying over the site of a wedding or other outdoor event, focusing long-distance lenses on folks on private  beaches, etc.
  3. Public disclosure of private facts – this is different from defamation because defamation requires the fact not be true.  The public disclosure tort can occur even with information that is true.  It is very hard to establish with a public figure.
  4. False light in the public eye – involves portraying a person in a false or misleading light in the public eye.  This is often done by omitting relevant information or suppressing the truth.

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