Legal Memorandum: Invasion of Privacy Claim

Issue: Invasion of Privacy Claims.

Area of Law: Business Organizations & Contracts, Personal Injury & Negligence
Keywords: Invasion of privacy claim; False light; Malice
Jurisdiction: Nebraska
Cited Cases: 411 N.W.2d 298; 435 N.W.2d 666; 231 Neb. 180
Cited Statutes: Neb. Rev. Stat. § 20-204
Date: 11/01/2006

In a false-light invasion of privacy case, common law malice, often expressed in terms of either personal ill will or reckless or wanton disregard of the plaintiff’s rights, focuses on the defendant’s attitude toward the plaintiff’s privacy, and not on the truth or falsity of the matter published.  See Time, Inc. v. Hill, 385 U.S. 374, 396 (1967); W. Prosser, Law of Torts 9-10 (4th ed).  In the Time case, which involved the publication of matters of public interest, the Supreme Court adopted the First Amendment malice requirement from the law of defamation.  See Schoneweis v. Dando, 231 Neb. 180, 435 N.W.2d 666 (1989) (citing Time and Cantrell v. Forest City Pub’g Co., 419 U.S. 245 (1974)).  If a matter is not be deemed one of public interest, but rather one primarily of interest to a certain Plaintiff in particular, that aspect could cast some doubt on the viability of the claim under Neb. Rev. Stat. § 20-204,*FN1 under which “[t]he gravamen of the conduct made actionable . . . .  is the dissemination of offending material to the public at large, or to so many persons that the matter must be regarded as substantially certain to become one of public knowledge.”  Schoneweis, 231 Neb. 180, 435 N.W.2d 666.    

In Turner v. Welliver, 226 Neb. 275, 411 N.W.2d 298 (1987), the plaintiff, an insurance agent, brought an invasion of privacy claim under § […]

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