Law School Case Brief
Doe v. Smith - 429 F.3d 706
A complaint suffices if any facts consistent with its allegations, and showing entitlement to prevail, could be established by affidavit or testimony at a trial.
Plaintiff former girlfriend sought review of a decision of the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois, which dismissed her complaint against defendant former boyfriend. The complaint sought compensation for invasion of privacy injuries the girlfriend allegedly sustained when the boyfriend distributed a videotape he had secretly made of a sexual encounter with the girlfriend. One of the girlfriend's claims was that the video recording was an unauthorized interception and that its disclosure was forbidden under the federal wiretapping statute, 18 U.S.C.S. §§ 2510-2522. The trial court dismissed the complaint because it did not specifically allege that the recording was an "interception" within the meaning of 18 U.S.C.S. § 2510(4).
Must pleadings in federal court allege facts corresponding to each "element" of a statute?
The trial court's judgment was reversed and the case was remanded for further proceedings consistent with the instant opinion. Pleadings in federal court did not need to allege facts corresponding to each "element" of a statute. It was enough to simply state a claim for relief. Under the complaint's allegations, and as required under 18 U.S.C.S. § 2511, the girlfriend could show that the boyfriend captured a wire, oral, or electronic communication if she could establish that the recording had a soundtrack. Likewise, the girlfriend could show the necessary "interception" if she and the boyfriend engaged in an oral communication that was picked up by the video recorder. If the girlfriend could establish the video was e-mailed, the distribution in interstate commerce prong of § 2511 would be satisfied. Finally, it was not clear that the defense provided in § 2511(2)(d) would be available to the boyfriend.
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