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Welling v. Weinfeld - 2007-Ohio-2451, 113 Ohio St. 3d 464, 866 N.E.2d 1051


In Ohio, one who gives publicity to a matter concerning another that places the other before the public in a false light is subject to liability to the other for invasion of his privacy if (a) the false light in which the other was placed would be highly offensive to a reasonable person, and (b) the actor had knowledge of or acted in reckless disregard as to the falsity of the publicized matter and the false light in which the other would be placed.


After a rock was thrown through a window on the landowner's premises, she circulated flyers offering a reward at, among other places, the neighbors' workplace and their children's school, even though she had no evidence that the neighbors were responsible.


Does Ohio recognize the "false light" theory of the tort of invasion of privacy? 




The supreme court held it was appropriate to recognize a claim for invasion of privacy for placing a person in a false light. A cause of action for false-light invasion of privacy protected an important individual right complementary to other privacy rights, and there were adequate protections guaranteeing the First Amendment rights of potential defendants. The differences between the torts of defamation and false light invasion of privacy warranted their separate recognition. The viability of a false-light privacy claim maintained the integrity of the right to privacy, complementing the other right-to-privacy torts. The right to privacy naturally extended to the ability to control false statements made about oneself. The statement made had to be untrue, the information had to be "publicized," as distinguished from "published," and the misrepresentation had to be serious enough to be highly offensive to a reasonable person.

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