Stessman v. Am. Black Hawk Broad. Co.

416 N.W.2d 685 (Iowa 1987)

 

RULE:

Under the notice pleading requirements of Iowa R. Civ. P. 69(a), a petition must contain a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief. The plaintiff does not need to identify a specific legal theory but must simply state the prima facie elements of a claim so as to give fair notice to the defendant. The pleading of "ultimate facts" is not required.

FACTS:

Appellant alleged that, while dining in a restaurant, she asked a television reporter working for appellee broadcasting company not to film her. The reporter filmed her nonetheless and the film was later broadcast. Appellant brought an action against appellee for invasion of privacy. The district court granted appellee's motion to dismiss after finding that the facts in appellant 's petition did not show an infringement of her privacy. The appellant appealed. The state supreme court reversed the district court's dismissal of appellant's petition and remanded for proceedings consistent with the opinion.

ISSUE:

Could appellant’s claim of filming and broadcasting of her dining in a restaurant as an unreasonable interference with her rights not to have her affairs known to others or her picture shown on television, validly sustain an invasion of privacy claim against appellee broadcasting company?

ANSWER:

Yes.

CONCLUSION:

Appellant's petition stated that the filming and broadcasting were an unreasonable interference with her rights not to have her affairs known to others or her picture shown on television. That constituted "fair notice" to appellee and satisfied pleading requirements. It was conceivable that even though appellant was in a public restaurant, she could have been seated in a private dining area and the filming could be a highly offensive intrusion upon appellant 's seclusion. Because the petition stated a claim upon which relief could be granted, the district court erred in dismissing the case.

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