Pemberton v. Bethlehem Steel Corp.

66 Md. App. 133, 502 A.2d 1101 (1986)

 

RULE:

The tort of intentional intrusion upon the solitude or seclusion of another or his private affairs or concerns that would be highly offensive to a reasonable person is the intrusion into a private place or the invasion of a private seclusion that the plaintiff has thrown about his person or affairs. There is no liability for observing him in public places, since he is not then in seclusion. Surveillance, depending on how it is conducted, may constitute such an intrusion. If conducted in a reasonable and non-obtrusive manner, it is not actionable.

FACTS:

Appellant business agent brought claims against appellees, employer, employees, agents, the Interstate Bureau of Investigation (Interstate) and its director, an attorney and his professional association, and a corporation and officers, for intentional infliction of emotional distress, invasion of privacy, interference with his marriage, and conspiracy. Appellant claimed that he was injured by the circulation of documents pertaining to his criminal conviction, the act of defendants placing him under surveillance, and the publication of his extramarital affair. The trial court dismissed appellant’s claims.  On appeal, the court affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded for entry of judgments and further proceedings.

ISSUE:

Were appellees liable for invasion of appellant’s privacy by allegedly circulating appellant’s criminal history record or mailing reports of appellant’s infidelity to his wife?

 

ANSWER:

No.

CONCLUSION:

No liability existed for invasion of privacy for the circulation of criminal history documents or the mailing of investigative reports to the wife because the records were unpublicized when distributed to a single person. Also, sanctions were prohibited for the publication of truthful information contained in official court records open to public inspection.

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