Law School Case Brief
Smith v. Bob Smith Chevrolet, Inc. - 275 F. Supp. 2d 808 (W.D. Ky. 2003)
The standard for "intrusion upon seclusion" pursuant to invasion of privacy claims under Kentucky common law, is an intentional intrusion, physical or otherwise, upon the solitude or seclusion of another if the intrusion would be highly offensive to a reasonable person. Thus, in order to prevail on a claim for intrusion upon seclusion, plaintiff must show (1) an intentional intrusion by the defendant, (2) into a matter the plaintiff has a right to keep private, (3) which is highly offensive to a reasonable person.
Plaintiff Christopher Smith (Christopher) had sued Defendant Bob Smith Chevrolet, Inc. (Smith Chevrolet) on breach of contract grounds and won. Subsequently, Christopher brought this suit, which alleged that Smith Chevrolet had violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C.S. §§ 1681 et seq., and invaded his privacy in violation of Kentucky common law. Smith Chevrolet moved for summary judgment on the grounds that Christopher’s claims are barred by Kentucky's claim preclusion rule; both parties moved for summary judgment on the issue of whether Smith Chevrolet lacked a permissible purpose when it accessed Christopher’s credit report; and Smith Chevrolet moved to dismiss the Kentucky invasion of privacy claim.
Did Smith Chevrolet lack a permissible purpose when it accessed Christopher’s credit report?
The district court denied the dealership's motions for summary judgment on finding that there was not a sufficient identity of the breach of contract and FCRA claims to support a finding of claim preclusion as, applying Kentucky law, the suit to enforce the purchase agreement did not preclude the second FCRA suit premised on alleged violations of the FCRA. The district court found Smith Chevrolet did not have a permissible purpose to access Christopher’s credit reports solely because the dealership did not access Christopher’s credit report in connection with a transaction initiated by Christopher, but because Smith Chevrolet sought recovery of a duplicative discount inadvertently credited to Christopher’s purchase agreement.
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