Coombs v. J.B. Hunt Transp., Inc.

2012 Ark. App. 24, 388 S.W.3d 456 (Ct. App.)

 

RULE:

The tort designated as invasion of privacy embraces several causes of action. Intrusion upon seclusion may occur in a variety of contexts, such as an improper search of a person's home, harassing telephone calls, improper photographing or videotaping of a person, opening another person's mail, or eavesdropping on private conversations by wiretapping or electronic devices. A plaintiff must show that the defendant's intrusion was the proximate cause of the plaintiff's damages. 

FACTS:

Coombs is a former employee of JBH. In May 2007, he and several other employees attended a "team-building" retreat in Kansas City, Missouri. The event was organized by JBH vice-presidents Allensworth and Emerson, who were Coombs's supervisors. Attendance was mandatory, and the JBH employees traveled to Kansas City in rented vans. According to Coombs, he rode in a van with Emerson, who provided beer for the trip. He was also assigned to share a hotel room with Allensworth. Coombs alleged that defendant supervisors invited others into plaintiff's hotel room for the purpose of looking at plaintiff after he had consumed too much alcohol and that the supervisors wrote on plaintiff's body, sprayed shaving cream on plaintiff, and took photographs of plaintiff and showed them to others. 

ISSUE:

Was there invasion of privacy?

ANSWER:

Yes.

CONCLUSION:

The court held that the supervisors were not entitled to summary judgment on plaintiff's claims for invasion of privacy because a fact-finder could view the supervisors' acts as an invasion of plaintiff's bodily space and as making plaintiff an object of ridicule.

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