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Intrusion--physically or electronically intruding into one's private quarters is not broad enough to include unwelcome conduct including touching in a sexual manner and sexually offensive comments. The intrusion to which this refers is into a place in which there is a reasonable expectation of privacy and is not referring to a body part.
From November 1991 until September 1992, appellee Elaine A. Scarfo was employed as a secretary for various Florida corporations owned by appellee Victor Ginsberg. Prior to that time, appellee employee worked for her husband without pay at appellee’s corporation. In September 1992, she was terminated. A year later, she filed a federal civil rights action against appellee owner alleging that throughout her employment, the latter subjected her to unwelcome offensive conduct, including physical touching and comments of a sexual nature. In addition, her complaint included common law tort claims for battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and invasion of privacy. During the time of the actions alleged by appellee employee, appellee owner was covered under a Personal Umbrella Policy issued by appellant Allstate Insurance Company, which applied to an occurrence anywhere in the world while the insurance is in force. In 1995, appellee owner tendered the defense of the action to appellant, demanding appellant to indemnify him for any potential liability. Appellant, in providing a defense to the actions under a reservation of rights, filed a declaratory judgment action seeking a determination whether appellant’s policies cover the claims alleged by appellee employee against appellee owner. In 1997, the district court dismissed the federal civil rights action on jurisdictional grounds, and dismissed appellee employee’s state law claims without prejudice. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal. Appellee employee re-filed her claims against appellee owner in the state court as common law torts. The parties filed cross motions for summary judgment, raising the question whether appellee employee properly alleged an invasion of privacy, thereby triggering appellant’s duty to defend. The federal appellate court asked in its first certified question whether pleadings of unwelcome conduct including touching in a sexual manner and sexually offensive comments stated a cause of action for the Florida common law tort claim of invasion of privacy.
Were pleadings of unwelcome conduct including touching in a sexual manner and sexually offensive comments states a cause of action for common law tort claim of invasion of privacy?
The Supreme Court of Florida held that intrusion, which was recognized as a category of the invasion of privacy tort, was into a place in which there was a reasonable expectation of privacy and was not referring to intrusion of a body part. The Supreme Court held that the tort of invasion of privacy was not intended to be duplicative of some other tort. Rather, this was a tort in which the focus was the right of a private person to be free from public gaze. The High Court ruled that the federal district court properly found that the allegations of the complaint did not amount to an invasion of privacy, and the court held that the remaining questions were moot.