Invasion of privacy lawyers bring claims when there is an unlawful intrusion into the life or affairs of another, without consent. There is no limit to the different scenarios that can constitute privacy violations. With the rise of social media and the ability of information to quickly spread on the internet, these claims are becoming more and more common, with more severe consequences.
The attorneys at Whitney, LLP have experience representing clients whose personal lives were invaded and disturbed by others, resulting in embarrassment, humiliation, anger and loss.
Click here to read the blog post on the Airbnb secret camera lawsuit.
If you are wondering whether you have an invasion of privacy claim, contact Whitney, LLP for a Legal Consultation
Evidence for Invasion of Privacy Legal Claims
Fortunately, evidence of privacy violations is often readily available. Digital footprints are left by illegal computer and e-mail account intrusions, security cameras record almost every interaction in public and at many private homes, and screenshots can be captured of texts, FaceBook posts and other digital communications.
When guests discover hidden cameras making secret recordings, the memory cards in the camera and other information on the hidden camera can often lead back to the individual who hid the camera.
With the proper evidence, victims can recover significant damages and compensation using experienced invasion of privacy lawyers.
Discovering Hidden Cameras and Secret Recordings
Technology has reached a point where hidden cameras can be placed almost anywhere and on any normal device. Victims who find hidden hidden cameras and realize they have been secretly recorded are upset and want to know who did it, where the recording is, and whether it has been shared online.
After finding a hidden camera, the first step is often to call the police. Also important is to get evidence of the secret recording. When unsuspecting guests discover they were secretly recorded without their permission by hidden cameras in rentals, bathrooms, hotels and apartments, that footage can often be recovered from the hidden camera.
If you have discovered that you were secretly recorded by a hidden camera, our lawyers can help bring invasion of privacy claims against the responsible party. Lawyers for hidden camera claims are seeing more and more cases due to the creative and inexpensive technology that is allowing wrongdoers to invade privacy of others.
Four Types of Claims an Invasion of Privacy Lawyer Can Bring
The tort of invasion of privacy in Maryland embraces four distinct causes of action:
- Intrusion upon seclusion;
- Appropriation of name or likeness;
- Unreasonable publicity given to private life; and
- Placing a person in a false light.
Under Maryland law, an individual can assert a claim for any of these kinds of invasions of privacy depending on the facts of their circumstances.
Each claim requires different elements to be satisfied, and it is helpful to consult an experienced attorney to make sure the correct claims are brought.
1. Intrusion Upon Seclusion
An intrusion upon seclusion claim in Maryland must allege the following three elements:
- Intentional intrusion;
- Into a private place, or affairs of another; and
- Such intrusion would be highly offensive to a reasonable person.
The purpose of this cause of action is to redress intrusions into private places or private seclusion. The matter intruded upon must be entitled to be private and actually be kept private by the plaintiff, but the defendant need not publish or otherwise make the matter intruded upon available to the public for the cause of action to succeed.
Examples of Intrusion Upon Seclusion Invasion Claims
- Opening somebody else’s mail
- Falsely accusing someone of stealing at a mall or store and illegally detaining and searching them
- Peering into the windows of somebody else’s house to watch them undress
- Secret audio or video recording of a person without consent.
False Imprisonment and Intrusion Upon Seclusion
There is a common scenario in which a person falsely accused of shoplifting, searched and detained has both privacy violation and false imprisonment claims. When a security guard or store employee illegally stops and searches a person, and prevents them from leaving, they have legal rights and can bring both claims. Read more about false imprisonment claims here and about Whitney, LLP’s $100,000 false imprisonment settlement here.
2. Appropriation of Name or Likeness
An appropriation of name or likeness claim in Maryland must allege the following three elements:
- The intentional taking, appropriation, or use;
- Of another’s name or likeness; and
- For the benefit of the defendant, i.e. for the commercial and other benefits associated with the name of the plaintiff.
This cause of action applies where a plaintiff’s name or likeness is appropriated for purposes of taking advantage of their reputation or some other value associated with their identity.
Example of Appropriation of Name or Likeness Privacy Violation
The most common example of such a claim is where one uses another’s name or likeness to enhance their own commercial wellbeing—e.g., using a plaintiff’s name or picture to advertise a defendant’s business or merchandise without consent.
For example, where a business posts a fake positive Google review of their own product or service under the name of one of their customers without their consent, an appropriation claim has arisen.
Similarly, using a photograph or video of a person without their consent in a marketing campaign would also give rise to an appropriation claim.
3. Unreasonable Publicity Given to Private Life
An unreasonable publicity given to private life claim in Maryland must allege the following three elements:
- Of facts which are not of valid concern to the public; and
- Which would be highly offensive to a reasonable person.
The purpose of this cause of action is to redress the publication of private facts which would be highly offensive to a reasonable person. It does not cover the recordation and circulation of anything already visible in a public place, as this only amounts to giving publicity to something that any member of the public is already free to see.
Example of Unreasonable Publicity Invasion of Privacy
Some examples of unreasonable publicity given to private life claims include unauthorized publication of a prior arrest record or of details regarding one’s marital and/or familial status, and the unauthorized taking and publication of photographs of people engaging in sexual acts in their own home.
4. Placing a Person in a False Light
A claim for placing a person in a false light in Maryland must allege the following three elements:
- That the defendant gave publicity to a matter concerning another that places the other before the public in a false light;
- That the false light in which the other person was placed would be highly offensive to a reasonable person; and
- That 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.
The purpose of this cause of action is to redress publication of false facts that falsely characterize a person in a highly offensive manner. The publication must be sufficiently broad such that the facts become public knowledge—it is not enough for a defendant to communicate a false fact to a single individual or even a small group of people.
Example of False Light Invasion of Privacy
A false light claim arises, for example, if a reporter publishes an article about an individual that falsely states that they have been arrested in the past or that they have children out of wedlock, when the reporter either knew the information was false or published the article with reckless disregard for the truth. Such a claim can also be asserted if such false information is posted on social media.
Compensation and Damages for Privacy Intrusions
When privacy is violated, people often feel emotional distress, including embarrassed, humiliated, exposed, angry, anxious and upset. If the intrusion causes economic loss, such as a business being hurt from false claims made about its services or reputation, money damages can be recovered.
Compensation for Invasion of Privacy Can Include:
- Emotional distress
- Economic loss
- Punitive damages
Lawsuits filed for Invasion of Privacy Claims by Whitney, LLP
In 2021, Whitney, LLP filed an invasion of privacy lawsuit against a health care provider who posted a fake positive Google review in a patient’s name. The patient never gave consent, and actually had a terrible experience. His privacy claims include appropriation of name and likeness as well as unreasonable publicity given to his private life.
Also in 2021, we filed a lawsuit against a Maryland mall after our client was falsely accused of shoplifting and surrounded by security in the parking lot. Although he had his receipt and offered it to the security guards, they blocked him in and forced him to wait until the police arrived, after they made a false police report saying they had seen him steal. In addition to his claims of invasion of privacy, he also has claims for false imprisonment.
How an Invasion of Privacy Lawyer Can Help
Whitney, LLP’s attorneys have experience representing individuals who have had their personal privacy wrongfully invaded. We know the upset and distress that violation of basic privacy rights can cause.
We can help you can fight back, limit the damage and recover compensation for what was done to you.
We offer Legal Consultations and can review your potential claim to determine if the facts of your situation give rise to a legal claim for invasion of privacy.