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Hamberger v. Eastman

    Brief Fact Summary.

    The New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled that there is no current tort action for invasion of privacy but noted there is a tort action for intrusion of another’s physical and mental solitude. 

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    In New Hampshire, a plaintiff may sue in tort for an unreasonable intrusion to plaintiff’s physical and mental solitude. 

    Facts.

    Eastman (Defendant) rented a house to Hamberger (Plaintiff) and his wife. After a year of living in the house, plaintiff discovered an audio recording device in their bedroom owned by the Defendant. The recording device picked up intimate conversations as well as intimate moments between plaintiff and his wife. Plaintiff became distressed, humiliated, embarrassed and sustained mental suffering. Hamberger brought a suit for invasion of privacy. Eastman filed a motion to dismiss where the trial court reserved judgment and transferred the case to the New Hamshire Supreme Court. 

    Issue.

    Whether a civil action exists for an unreasonable and serious intrusion of another’s mental and physical privacy.

    Held.

    Yes. The Supreme Court determines there is no cause of action for an invasion of privacy however there is a cause of action for an intrusion of one’s mental and physical solitude. The Court emphasizes that the intrusion must be such a significant intrusion that intimate details of a private individual are exposed.

    Discussion.

    The court emphasizes the idea that the intrusion must be so significant to only include intimate details of a person. Furthermore, the court notes that the intrusion does not have to be publicized. 


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