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One who intentionally intrudes, physically or otherwise, upon the solitude or seclusion of another or his private affairs or concerns, is subject to liability to the other for invasion of his privacy, if the intrusion would be highly offensive to a reasonable person.
After plaintiff husband and defendant wife separated, defendant wife intercepted plaintiff's mail and hired defendant private investigators to place a surveillance camera in his bedroom. Plaintiff filed an action against defendants for invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress, trespass, and damage to real property. The trial court granted summary judgment to defendants and plaintiff appealed.
Does North Carolina recognize the tort of invasion of privacy by intrusion into the seclusion, solitude, or private affairs of another ("intrusion tort")?
The court reversed and remanded. The intrusion tort protected against invasions of privacy such as the invasions of plaintiff's home and mail. Summary judgment as to trespass was improper because of issues of fact as to whether defendant wife was authorized to enter plaintiff's home or could give others that right. Plaintiff's marriage did not preclude his action against defendant wife because their separation agreement gave him sole possession of the marital residence and she was not authorized to open his mail. The camera installation damaged plaintiff's real property. Defendant wife's knowledge that plaintiff tended to be fearful raised issues of fact precluding summary judgment as to intentional infliction of emotional distress and punitive damages.