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Law School Case Brief

West v. Media Gen. Convergence, Inc. - 53 S.W.3d 640 (Tenn. 2001)

Rule:

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.

Facts:

Petitioners, operators of a private probation service, sued respondent television station for false light invasion of privacy. One of the operators alleged that the television station invaded her privacy by implying that she had a sexual relationship with a judge; and that the judges and the operators had a "cozy," and hence improper, relationship. The district court held that Tennessee recognized the tort of false light invasion of privacy.

Issue:

Do the courts of Tennessee recognize the tort of false light invasion of privacy?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The certified question was answered affirmatively and it was concluded that the courts of Tennessee recognize the tort of false light invasion of privacy. The parameters of false light in Tennessee are adequately explained by the Comments to Sections 652A and 652E-I, as well as the pleading of damages requirement provided in Memphis Publishing Co. v. Nichols, 569 S.W.2d 412 (Tenn. 1978).

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