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Invasion Of Privacy

By Author: Winnie Melda
Total Articles: 15

The post on his Facebook account read “rough night investigating a fatal accident. The family has my prayers.” As a result, the Police Chief Billy Whitenack issued Pearce with of a notice of verbal counseling. The note was issued on 5th April 2012. The notice informed Jeffrey Pearce on the alleged violation of police department policy. Subsequently, Debbie Sallee, a citizen filed a complaint against Pearce in regards to an incident that had happened at Walmart on 6th April 2012. During the said time, Pearce was off duty.
On 14th of May 2012, Police Chief Billy Whitenack issued a 48-hours notice to Pearce that required him to avail himself for an interview in reference to the citizen complaint filed by Debbie Sallee concerning the Walmart incident that had occurred on 17th April 2012. The objective of the interview, according to the notice, was to investigate Debbie Sallee’s complains. The notice stated that the complaint fell under the Category III subsections which related to taking any action that was likely to impair the Departments’, members’ and employees’ efficiency or reputation. The meeting was scheduled for Thursday; 17th may 2012 at 1500 hours.
On 25th may 2012, Police Chief Billy Whitenack issued a letter of suspension to Pearce. The suspension was with pay and was to allow an internal investigation concerning the violations of Harrodsburg Police Department Rules of Conduct. The alleged violations included the violation of rules, unbecoming conduct, insubordination, courtesy, public statements, appearances and truthfulness. Pearce resigned upon tendering his resignation to the Harrodsburg City Clerk a few days later, on 1st June 2012. He also filed a Grievance with the city clerk on the same day. The Grievance entailed allegations concerning the violation of provisions of KRS 1 15.520 and improper suspension. On 4th June 2012, the Harrodsburg City Attorney, through a letter informed Pearce that as a result of prior resignation, his Grievance was procedurally defective and therefore would not be addressed by the city or it’s Board of Commissioners. Pearce had filed a complaint against Whitenack in his official capacity and individually together with other defendants
Civil law
Civil law is a body of rules that describes private rights and remedies. Civil law governs disputes between individuals as opposed to offenses that are public. Civil law is a branch of law that majors in breaches of civil duties as compared to contractual duties. Torts are civil wrongs that result to an injury or harm. The party that suffers injury is entitled to sue for damages or injunction to prevent the continuation of those acts. Damages are terms of monetary compensation. Invasion of privacy can cause damages as a result of willful disregard for the rights of others. Punitive damages can be given particularly to such a tort involving dignitary harm where the actual monetary injury may be considered small.
The Pearce Vs Whitenack case can be classified as a tort under the civil law. The invasion of privacy contains the element of the intrusion of one’s personal life by another without just cause. The intrusion can allow the plaintiff whose privacy has been intruded a legal right to bring a proceeding against the person or legal body that intruded for payment of damages. According to Witzleb, the invasion of privacy encompasses data collection, internet privacy and workplace monitoring and other means of disseminating private information. The law does not protect public personages in most situations. They are considered to have voluntarily placed themselves within the public eye hence their activities are considered newsworthy. Non-public individuals have a right to privacy from, intrusion on one’s solitude, public disclosure of embarrassing private information, publicity that puts the individual in the false light of the public and the appropriation of the person’s name or picture for personal or commercial advantage. (Witzleb, 2014)
However, there is limited, constitutional right of privacy based on a number of provisions. One of the provisions includes a right to privacy from state surveillance into areas that a person expects a reasonable privacy. Also, matters relating to marriage, contraception, procreation, childbearing, education and family relationships are also included in the provisions.
Invasion of privacy
Pearce invasion of privacy claims arose from the Notice Of Verbal Counseling issued by Chief Billy Whitenack. Pearce alleged that Whitenack’s action was based on activities that happened in the privacy of Pearce’s home. The posting of a comment by Pearce on his Facebook page relating to the fatal accident was carried out in the privacy of Pearce’s home.
Under the invasion of privacy, the defendant is subject to the rule when he has invaded a private seclusion in which the plaintiff has thrown about his personal affairs. However, to be actionable, the plaintiff should have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the matter. In addition, the plaintiff must show that there was actionable intrusion or the defendant penetrated some zone of sensory or physical privacy and obtained unwarranted access to data concerning the plaintiff.
The trial court determined that Pearce chose to post his comments on a public forum. The expectation of privacy is not absolute and may be extinguished when information is transformed over the internet. When a social media user disseminates his information through posting to the public, it is not considered an invasion of privacy. However, it may be considered an invasion of privacy if the user intended to preserve the information as private by using more secure private settings. Pearce filed an appeal on four matters including the invasion of privacy.
Trial court ruling
The court held that Whitenack was not liable for the invasion of the plaintiff’s privacy due to the fact that the he lacked a legitimate expectation of privacy in the dissemination of such information in a public forum. To support his argument, Pearce relied upon the case of Rhodes v. Graham. In Rhodes case, the judge noted that the right to privacy included the right to live one’s life in seclusion and without being subjected to undesired and warranted publicity. It was regarded as the right to be let alone. In of Rhodes v. Graham, the court incorporated the rule concerning intrusion that a person is subject to liability for invasion of privacy if he intentionally intrudes, physically or otherwise upon the seclusion of another. The intrusion was required to be highly offensive to a reasonable person. However, the section was adopted in 1965, before personal computers and internet were invented; therefore its comments were regarded as instructive.
Why the court held that way
The court recognized a problem with Pearce’s argument. The plaintiff chose to post his comments in a public forum. In this case, Pearce commented about the fatal tragic accident on his Facebook page. As with all internet connections, the court found that he ran the risk that the posting whether intended to remain private would be disseminated further by unauthorized recipients. The court ruled that there lacked legitimacy in the expectation of privacy in the material intended for public posting. Liability cannot accrue to a person if he observes another or takes his photograph when walking on a public highway, since that cannot be considered as if he was in seclusion. A person’s appearance is public and therefore open to the public eye. In the same way, the posting of the comment in Facebook was, therefore, equivalent to a walk on the internet, the information superhighway. Chief Billy Whitenack could not, therefore, be held liable for invasion of privacy.
The decision was fair and why
I agree with the court’s decision. The plaintiff did not have intentions to keep the matter private. The fact that Facebook is a social network qualifies it to be grouped as a public forum. Secondly, the fact that the information was transformed through the internet extinguishes his expectation of privacy. Information on the social media cannot be considered as invasion of privacy. The court’s decision was fair.
Works cited
PLoL - Recent Decisions from Kentucky (2014) Case Law: Pearce v. Whitenack retrieved from http://www.plol.org/Pages/PublicDocument.aspx?d=T8NB%.
Witzleb, Normann. "Exemplary Damages For Invasions Of Privacy." Journal Of Media Law 6.1 (2014): 69-93

Winnie Melda is an academic writer and an editor and she offers custom dissertation writing service. Thus, people that doubt their own writing abilities can pay someone to write my dissertation and forget about their fears and unconfidence by visiting MeldaResearch.Com

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Author is associated with MeldaResearch.Com which is a global Custom Essay Writing and Term Paper Writing Company. If you would like help in Research Papers and Term Paper Help you can visit Custom Writing Service

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