Login

Login

To access this feature, please Log In or Register for your Casebriefs Account.

Add to Library

Add

Search

Login
Register

Hamberger v. Eastman

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Plaintiff rented a house from Defendant. Plaintiff sued Defendant for invasion of privacy after he found a recording device which Defendant placed in his bedroom. Defendant moved to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim. The trial court reserved judgment on the issue and transferred the case to the New Hampshire Supreme Court for review.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    An action in tort exists for an unreasonable and serious interference with another’s physical and mental solitude or seclusion.

    Facts.

    Hamberger and his wife (Plaintiffs) rented a house from Eastman (Defendant). Defendant’s house was directly adjacent to Plaintiffs’s house. Unbeknownst to Plaintiff, Defendant had placed an audio recording device in Plaintiff’s bedroom. For nearly a year, Defendant listened and recorded the Plaintiffs’ conversations and intimate activities. After finding the recording device, Plaintiff became greatly distressed, humiliated, embarrassed, and sustained mental suffering, which impaired his mental and physical condition. Plaintiff sued Defendant for invasion of privacy. Defendant moved to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim. The trial court reserved judgment on the issue and transferred the case to the New Hampshire Supreme Court for review.

    Issue.

    Whether an action in tort exists for an unreasonable and serious interference with another’s physical and mental solitude or seclusion.

    Held.

    Yes. Defendant’s invasion into the Plaintiffs’ solitude or seclusion is a violation of their right to privacy and constitutes a tort for which damages are recoverable. An action in tort exists for an unreasonable and serious interference with another’s physical and mental solitude or seclusion.

    Discussion.

    There is no state statute or previous legal decision which supplies an action for invasion of an individual’s right of privacy. As applied to the facts of the present case, it is more accurate to determine whether an action in tort exists for intrusion upon one’s physical and mental solitude or seclusion. Intrusion into a married couple’s bedroom would be offensive to any person of ordinary sensibilities. The Restatement of Torts, § 867 provides that “a person who unreasonably and seriously interferes with another’s interest in not having his affairs known to others . . . is liable to the other.” Liability exists only if a defendant should have known that his conduct would be offensive to persons of ordinary sensibilities. A defendant’s conduct must go beyond the limits of decency, such as where intimate details of a private individual are exposed. Defendant argues that no violation of Plaintiff’s right to privacy occurred because there are no allegations that he actually listened to or overheard the conversations and other activities from Plaintiff’s bedroom. However, an action for intrusion upon a person’s solitude or seclusion does not require publicity or communication to third persons and does not require anything to be published, written, printed or spoken about the claimed invasion. Certainly, a “peeping Tom” who intentionally invades a private couples’ bedroom via audio recording device in order to surreptitiously record private conversations and intimate acts has invaded the couple’s right of privacy.


    Create New Group

      Casebriefs is concerned with your security, please complete the following