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Desnick v. American Broadcasting Companies, Inc

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Employees of Defendant posed as patients in order to investigate Plaintiffs. Defendant’s employees were equipped with hidden cameras and videotaped conversations with Plaintiffs’ employees. Plaintiffs filed suit claiming that Defendant committed a trespass by failing to divulge their true reasons for the visits. The district court dismissed Plaintiffs’ suit. Plaintiff appealed.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    Entry onto another’s property does not constitute unlawful trespassing if the entry does not interfere with the owner’s possession or ownership of the property.

    Facts.

    Employees of ABC television network (Defendant) went undercover to Desnick Eye Center (Plaintiffs) to conduct an investigation for Primetime Live, an ABC television show. To accomplish this, Defendant’s employees posed as patients requesting eye examinations. During their visits, Defendant’s employees were equipped with hidden cameras and videotaped the conversations they had with Plaintiffs’ employees.

    Issue.

    Whether entry onto a business’s property based on misrepresentation or failure to disclose one’s purpose constitutes unlawful trespassing.

    Held.

    No. The district court’s dismissal is affirmed. Defendant’s entry does not constitute unlawful trespass.

    Discussion.

    An entry is not unlawful if it does not interfere with the property owner’s possession of his property. Defendant’s entry did not interfere with Plaintiffs’ ownership and possession of the property. Plaintiffs’ offices were open to anyone seeking an eye examination. Defendant’s employees did not infringe on Plaintiffs’ private information or space nor did they interfere with Plaintiffs’ ability to conduct business; they merely videotaped their own conversations with Plaintiffs’ employees in a professional setting.


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