Created byВ FindLaw’s team of legal writers and editors | Last updated March 20, 2019
Let’s say you accidentally leave a personal letter containing private information on a public park bench, and that letter is picked up and read by someone else. Even if the sharing of this information damages your reputation or causes other harm, it is not a violation of your privacy. That requires a “reasonable expectation of privacy”, which would apply if the letter was not left out in public.
But if you’re having a private conversation in your home and a neighbor uses an electronic device to eavesdrop (and this causes injury), then your expectation of privacy has been violated. This is because you have a reasonable expectation that your neighbor is not using surveillance on your home.
An invasion of privacy occurs when there is an intrusion upon your reasonable expectation to be left alone. This article covers the four main types of invasion of privacy claims, an intentional tort primarily controlled by state laws.
The four main types of invasion of privacy claims are:
- Intrusion of Solitude
- Appropriation of Name or Likeness
- Public Disclosure of Private Facts
- False Light
The following information explores these types of claims and the basics of invasion of privacy law in general.
1. Intrusion of Solitude
Intruding upon another’s solitude or private affairs is subject to liability if the intrusion is considered highly offensive to a reasonable person. This tort is often associated with “peeping Toms,” someone illegally intercepting private phone calls, or snooping through someone’s private records.
Taking photographs of someone in public would not be invasion of privacy; however, using a long- range camera to take photos of someone inside their home would qualify. Making a few unsolicited telephone calls may not constitute a privacy invasion, but calling repeatedly after being asked to stop would.
Example: A man with binoculars regularly climbs a tree in his yard and watches a woman across the street undress through her bathroom window.
2. Appropriation of Name or Likeness
Plaintiffs may make a claim for damages if an individual (or company) uses their name or likeness for benefit without their permission. Usually this involves a business using a celebrity’s name or likeness in an advertisement. Some states even limit this type of privacy tort to commercial uses.
This is not always the case. For example, a private detective who impersonates someone else to obtain confidential information has invaded that person’s privacy. The recognition of this tort is like a property right; in other words, a person’s name and likeness is treated as that person’s property. For celebrities, this is often referred to as “right of publicity”.
Example: An advertising agency approached musician Tom Waits to participate in a campaign for a new automobile. Waits, who has a distinctive and easily recognizable voice, declined. The advertisers hired someone who sounds like him to do the soundtrack, prompting Waits to sue the automaker for appropriating his likeness.
3. Public Disclosure of Private Facts
This type of invasion of privacy claim must be weighed against the First Amendment’s protection of free speech. Unlike defamation (libel or slander), truth of the disclosed information isn’t a defense. If an individual publicly reveals truthful information that is not of public concern and which a reasonable person would find offensive if made public, they could be liable for damages.
For example, a woman about to deliver a baby via caesarian section agrees to allow the operation to be filmed for educational purposes only, but instead it’s shown to the public in a commercial theater. This is an invasion of her privacy. However, publishing an article about a politician known for his family values who is having an affair with a staffer is of public concern and therefore not an invasion of his privacy. Some states including New York don’t recognize this type of claim.
Example: The maiden name of a former prostitute who was acquitted of murder was revealed in a film about the case. Since the trial, she had moved to another city, gotten married and adopted a new lifestyle. Her new friends were unaware of her past, so the disclosure of this true but embarrassing information was deemed an invasion of her privacy.
4. False Light
A false light claim is similar to a defamation claim in that it allows an individual to sue for the public disclosure of information that is misleading (or puts that person in a “false light”), but not technically false. The key difference is that defamation claims only apply to the public broadcasting of false information and as with defamation, sometimes First Amendment protections prevail.
Generally, a false light claim must contain the following elements: (1) the defendant made a publication about the plaintiff; (2) it was done with reckless disregard; (3) it placed the plaintiff in a false light; and (4) it would be highly offensive or embarrassing to a reasonable person.
Example: A 96-year-old woman sued an Arkansas newspaper for printing her picture next to the headline, “Special Delivery: World’s oldest newspaper carrier, 101, quits because she’s pregnant!” The woman, who was not pregnant, was awarded damages of $1.5 million.
Get Legal Help with an Invasion of Privacy Claim
Privacy issues are complicated and emotional, which can result in highly contentious court proceedings. Whether your privacy has been violated, or someone is accusing you of violating their privacy, you may benefit from a lawyer’s assistance in preparing your case. Contact a local defamation attorney with invasion of privacy law experience to learn how they can help you defend your rights in court.
Published On: January 24, 2020
Nurses have a legal and ethical responsibility to maintain patient privacy and confidentiality. Social media and new technology create additional challenges, as disclosing information is often unintentional. Creating a heightened awareness can help you be more diligent in protecting yourself, your patients and your employer.
What Is HIPAA?
HIPAA, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act , was passed by Congress in 1996 in order to better protect patient privacy, and it outlines Privacy, Security and Breach Notifications Rules . According to the California Department of Health Care Services, HIPAA requires that “health care providers and organizations, as well as their business associates, develop and follow procedures that ensure the confidentiality and security of protected health information (PHI) when it is transferred, received, handled, or shared.”
What does this mean for you as a nurse? Simply put, all forms of PHI (paper, electronic or oral) must be kept confidential and secure, and you should only use the minimum health information necessary to your practice. HIPAA violations can have serious consequences . Nurses can face fines, sanctions or even loss of license, and employers can face fines up to $1.5 million.
What does a HIPAA Violation Look Like?
HIPAA violations come in many forms — some of which may be unexpected. Here are just a few situations to illustrate how violations can happen:
Social Media: Nurses, patients and caregivers form close bonds, so it’s only natural that they reach out to connect through social media. Unfortunately, it is very easy to blur the lines between a professional and personal relationship. Think about information on your social media — your friends, family, opinions, activities and photos — that may influence their opinion of you as their nurse.
Now, think about patient information on social media. Suppose your patient goes out drinking this weekend and alcohol interacts with their medication. Now that you have that information, do you report it? Or is that a breach of patient confidentiality as well? The legal and ethical considerations can quickly become murky.
Social media may negatively impact future employment as workplace discrimination still occurs. Sharing a patient photo with a caption like “Why I love nursing” or “Finishing chemotherapy” may cause harm years later, even if the patient consented. Although you may feel your social media is appropriately private, it is incredibly easy to send screenshots from one person to another. To protect your hard-earned nursing license and to follow the law, consider what downstream effects your social media presence could cause.
Overheard Conversations: Have you ever been to the doctor’s office and seen or heard other patients’ names or medical information? It can make you feel uncomfortable and think that your private information may also be at risk. When discussing patient health information , it is always important to keep in mind the setting you are in — hallway, elevator, nurses’ station or cafeteria, for example.
Technological Mishaps: We’ve all left our phones somewhere or our computers unlocked. Nurses need to watch how and where they view patient information. Be cautious about accessing patient information on home devices such as personal computers or tablets to avoid putting yourself at risk for a HIPAA violation.
5 Tips to Avoid Violating HIPAA Regulations
Now that you know a few of the areas of concern, here are a few ways to prevent HIPAA violations.
- Double check authorization requirements. HIPAA requires written consent from the patient before the use or disclosure of information (other than treatment, payment, healthcare operations or Privacy Rule-exempt). Always pause and double-check before providing information, especially to co-workers not caring for the patient.
- Watch where you discuss patient information. Nurses are busy, and often it is easiest to catch a colleague or caregiver in passing to relay patient information. Make every effort possible to control the environment to reduce the risk of HIPAA violations.
- Mind your technology. Technology has made information sharing easier than ever, but it also comes with risks . Sharing login credentials or passwords, leaving portable devices unattended, and texting patient information are all easy ways to commit a HIPAA violation. Use caution when discussing or viewing confidential information on devices and use your workplace healthcare messaging platform instead of regular text messaging.
- Unfriend/unfollow/block current patients and caregivers. If you are already connected with patients or caregivers on social media, now is a good time to break that link. Let them know you will be “un-friending” or unfollowing, not because you don’t value the relationship, but because you are concerned about professional boundaries. Make your social media profiles private and block patients from seeing your public social media.
- Politely decline friend/follow requests. If a patient or caregiver sends you a friend or follow request, politely decline it. Explain that it would be in violation of your employer’s social media policies. Not sure if your employer has a policy? Most do. If not, the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) and the American Nurses Association (ANA) do.
Does your employer have good policies in place or do they need updating? Consider starting or joining a team to help. An online RN to BSN program can teach you the leadership skills you need to become an effective agent for change at your place of employment.
Have a question or concern about this article? Please contact us.
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- How to Tell a Boss That a Co-worker Is Stealing Money
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Not many things can be more frustrating – and often even infuriating – than dealing with untruths that are related to your work performance and behaviors. If someone in your workplace is spreading false information about your actions or results, then you have to be prepared to set the record straight.
Strong organization is often an effective defense against false accusations. If you’re in a situation where you have to defend yourself, make sure to meticulously organize all key emails, letters, invoices and receipts, to start. Make sure these things are always easily accessible if you need them, too. If a customer tells your boss that you didn’t complete a job for her, show your manager the email in which she thanks you for your finished work. Never discard documentation that you might need at a later date – ever.
Candid communication can often go a long way in defense against false statements. If your coworker told your supervisor that you routinely take two-hour lunch breaks, take it upon yourself to speak to her about the notion. Look your boss in the eye and tell her the truth. If the complaints about your breaks are unfounded, tell her that clearly. Don’t allow your coworker to be the only one participating in a dialogue with your boss regarding this matter. If your supervisor has a jam-packed, busy schedule, then you might have to arrange beforehand for an appointment with her to have this discussion.
Human Resources Discussion
Not all matters can be settled through discussions with the boss. Some situations call for “outside” help within the workplace. If this applies to you, take things to your company’s human resources division. When you talk to the professionals in this department, give as many clear details regarding your situation as possible. Clearly indicate the untrue complaints that are being made about you, as well. If available, provide them with as much documentation supporting your case as you can. By discussing the serious issue of unfounded complaints with human resources, you can gain helpful “proof” of your dilemma.
Grace Under Pressure
While it might seem tough, a terrific defense against lies and unfounded complaints is often to continue being the exemplary employee you need to be. Never lose your cool by behaving in a belligerent manner in defending yourself against untrue complaints. Instead, protect your reputation by continuing to do your job with poise and conviction. Instead of engaging the person who is complaining about you, focus on what’s most important – the job you are supposed to do. Exhibiting grace under pressure is key to taking the high road amid major workplace stress factors.
If overpayments are found, then the extrapolation recoupment number will go up; if underpayments are found, the extrapolation will go down.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the last of a three-part RACmonitor series on zero-paid claims. See Part I and Part II here.
Zero-paid claims are defined as any claims submitted by healthcare providers that are not paid. The problem is that when performing statistical extrapolations, auditors (ZPICs, or Zone Program Integrity Contractors, and others) routinely screen out zero-paid items when they extract the claims from a sample.
This is a violation of at least 12 parts of the Medicare Program Integrity Manual (MPIM), according to a recent administrative law judge (ALJ) decision that discarded statistical extrapolation. Section 188.8.131.52 says that removing zero-paid claims is a “direct violation” of Chapter 8 of the MPIM.
Screening out zero-paid claims is a crooked practice. It is hidden from the provider, because the auditors leave out the details from their “documentation” of the statistical work. Also, and more importantly, it biases the entire audit and extrapolation against the provider. Why? Because zero-paid claims may not be checked to see if they should have been paid. The result: the extrapolation number can only go up, and never down, in favor of the provider.
Mounting a Defense
In order to mount a defense against exclusion of zero-paid claims, your team must convince the ALJ that first, it is a violation of the MPIM, and second, that it really makes a difference in the extrapolation.
The harsh reality is that the MPIM provides a well-known section that gives the auditor a “Get Out of Jail Free” card. In § 184.108.40.206 it states that:
Failure by the contractor to follow one or more of the requirements contained herein . . . should not be construed as necessarily affecting the validity of the statistical sampling and/or the projection of the overpayment.
If I had a dollar for every time an auditor has been exposed with numerous MPIM violations, yet has pulled out this clause and convinced the ALJ to ignore its sloppy work, I would be able to afford that villa in Italy.
Here is what to do:
Step 1 – Detail All MPIM Violations
The first step is to document every single violation of the MPIM made by the auditor. Review every single paragraph of Chapter 8, “Statistical Sampling for Overpayment Estimation,” and see if the auditor either met or failed to meet the requirements.
In this process, if you apply the same level of scrutiny to the auditor’s actions as it has applied to your claims that were rejected, a large number of violations will be found. We have been doing this work since 2001, and have never even once seen a statistical extrapolation done in full compliance with the MPIM. Most violations likely will be found in shoddy documentation provided by the auditor.
Step 2 – Document All Zero-Paid Claim References in the MPIM
Next, the ALJ must be schooled on the zero-paid claims problem, and shown each of the 12 sections of the MPIM that have been violated. There are two parts to this discussion: first, elucidation of the relevant rules, and second, showing with specificity where in the auditor’s work the violations took place.
At the end, the ALJ must understand that there are a number of MPIM violations, that they are significant, and that the auditor has hidden the documentation showing how they made the omissions.
Step 3 – Verify All Zero-Paid Claims
The so-called “universe file” that the auditor will give you will not have the zero-paid claims. They will be hidden. Yet it is crucial – repeat, crucial – to document how many zero-paid claims there were.
After all, if you are making a defense against the extrapolation based on elimination of zero-paid claims, but it turns out that there were none, then the appeal will be laughed out of court. So as a precautionary measure, make sure there were actually zero-paid claims.
It has been our experience that the best way to get this information is from the provider’s own database of submitted claims, and not from the auditor. Two reasons: first, the provider’s database will be definitive, and second, there is no need to tip off the auditor to your defense strategy.
Step 4 – Model the Effect of Zero-Paid Claims on the Extrapolation
Next, you will need to hire a statistical expert who is capable of modeling the effect of zero-paid claims omission on the extrapolation.
Doing this requires sophisticated mathematical skills and experience with Medicare extrapolations. One complicating factor is that it is impossible to know which of the zero-paid claims might have been included in the sample – and of those, how many would have been found deserving of payment. What this modeling will answer is to what degree screening out zero-paid claims introduced error into the extrapolation.
Making Your Case
The result must be explained to the ALJ in order to show how unfair the practice was, and how it made the extrapolation so unreliable that it must be discarded.
The practice of screening out zero-paid claims has gone on for years. It is a relief to see that finally, ALJs are starting to recognize this problem, and are rightfully throwing out these crooked statistical extrapolations.
Note: for a free white paper on zero-paid claims, contact the author.
Programming Note: Listen to the live reporting of Edward M. Roach this coming Monday on Monitor Mondays, 10 Eastern.
Defenses Against Claim of Ownership of a Valid Copyright
- Unregistered Copyright – Based on the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling in Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corp. v. Wall-Street.com, LLC, et al., an alleged copyright owner must apply for copyright registration with the Copyright Office and the Copyright Office must make or refuse registration before litigation may be instituted. A copyright infringement lawsuit initiated before registration may be subject to dismissal.
- Lack of Originality – A work is protected by the Copyright Act only if it is an original work of authorship. The owner must show that the work was independently created and that it possesses at least a minimal degree of creativity. Thus, for example, compilations (e.g. phonebooks), reproductions, and factual recitations are not a protected work without some additional minimal creativity.
- The Merger Doctrine – Copyright law does not protect against expressions of ideas that can only be expressed in one or very few ways. For example, a “no smoking” sign conveyed through a red circle with a diagonal line crossed through it over a cigarette is not copyrightable because there are only a few effective ways of visually presenting the idea.
Defenses Against Allegation of Violation of an Exclusive Right
- Independent Development – Copyright does not protect against independently created works, even if the work is identical. In other words, if you create your work independently without any knowledge of the copyrighted work, there is no infringement.
- Fair Use – The Copyright Act specifically provides that the fair use of a copyrighted work is not an infringement of copyright. Use of a copyright work “for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research” is not an infringement. Several factors are considered in assessing whether use of a work is considered fair use or liable for copyright infringement, including:
- The purpose and character of the use – Is the use commercial? Educational? Transformative?
- The nature of the copyrighted material or work – Is the work factual or creative/fictional?
- The amount and substantiality of use in relation to the whole
- The effect on the potential market for or value of the work – Is it a substitute for demand for the work?
- Scènes à Faire – Copyright does not protect elements of a work that are standard/indispensable in the type of work at issue. Common scenes and themes, standard or stock expressions, and clichéd language are not protected.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.
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Invasion of privacy is the intrusion upon, or revelation of, something private[i]. One who intentionally intrudes, physically or otherwise, upon the solitude or seclusion of another or his/her private affairs or concerns, is subject to liability to the other for invasion of privacy[ii].
The law of privacy consists of four distinct kinds of invasion. The right of privacy is invaded when there is[iii]:
- unreasonable intrusion upon the seclusion of another,
- appropriation of the other’s name or likeness,
- unreasonable publicity given to the other’s private life, and
- publicity which unreasonably places the other in a false light before the public.
An invasion of the right of privacy by anyone of the above four courses of conduct may give rise to a cause of action and, on occasion, there may be an overlapping or concurrent invasion by any or all of the above means working toward the injury of the plaintiff.
Liability for a claim of invasion of privacy by intrusion must be based upon an intentional interference with the plaintiff’s interest in solitude or seclusion, either as to his/her person or as to his/her private affairs or concerns[iv].
Invasion of privacy by intrusion does not depend upon any publicity given to the person whose interest is invaded or to his/her affairs. To be actionable, the prying or intrusion into the plaintiff’s private affairs must be of a type which is offensive to a reasonable person.
The Restatement of Torts clearly provides that the acts constituting the invasion of privacy must be highly offensive to a reasonable person. However, in the case of wrongful appropriation of one’s name or likeness restatement provisions provides that the act need not be highly offensive to constitute invasion of privacy.
The unwarranted publication of a person’s name or likeness may constitute the most common means of invasion of the right of privacy. The protection of name and likeness from unwarranted intrusion or exploitation is the heart of the law of privacy[v].
One who appropriates to his/her own use or benefit the name or likeness of another is subject to liability to the other for invasion of his/her privacy. However, merely suggesting certain characteristics of the plaintiff, without literally using his/her name, portrait, or picture, is not actionable[vi]. To constitute an invasion of the right of privacy, the use of a name or likeness must amount to a meaningful or purposeful use of the name of a person.
Similarly, mere incidental commercial use of a person’s name or photograph is not actionable under the Civil Rights Law[vii]. Some meaningful or purposeful use of the name is essential to the statutory cause of action. Further, it is a person whose name is used for advertising purposes or for the purposes of trade who has a cause of action.
Tortious liability for appropriation of a name or likeness is intended to protect the value of an individual’s notoriety or skill[viii]. Thus, in order that there may be liability for such appropriation, a defendant must have appropriated to his/her own use or benefit the reputation, prestige, social or commercial standing, public interest or other values of the plaintiff’s name or likeness.
Public disclosure of private facts occurs when a person gives publicity to a matter that concerns the private life of another, a matter that would be highly offensive to a reasonable person and that is not of legitimate public concern.
To establish a cause of action for invasion of privacy on the ground of public disclosure of private facts, the courts consider three elements[ix].
- the disclosure of private facts must be a public disclosure.
- the facts disclosed must be private facts, and not public ones.
- the matter made public must be one which would be offensive and objectionable to a reasonable person of ordinary sensibilities.
n an action for invasion of privacy based on the alleged wrongful disclosure of private facts, the plaintiff must show that the disclosure complained of was actually public in nature. There is no liability when a defendant merely gives further publicity to information about a plaintiff that is already public.
False light/invasion of privacy is one of four types of invasions of privacy and the elements of the false light invasion of privacy are[x]:
- publication of some kind must be made to a third party;
- the publication must falsely represent the person; and
- that representation must be highly offensive to a reasonable person.
The protection afforded to a plaintiff’s interest in his/her privacy must be[xi]:
- relative to the customs of the time and place,
- to the occupation of the plaintiff, and
- to the habits of his/her neighbors and fellow citizens.
Some Courts define the tort of invasion of privacy as the wrongful intrusion into one’s private activities in such a manner as to outrage or cause mental suffering, shame, or humiliation to a person of ordinary sensibilities[xii].
Whether there is an offensive invasion of privacy is to some extent a question of law[xiii]. However, some jurisdictions are of the view that the question of invasion of privacy is one of fact[xiv].
[i] Huskey v. National Broadcasting Co., 632 F. Supp. 1282 (N.D. Ill. 1986).
[ii] Jackson v. Playboy Enterprises, Inc., 574 F. Supp. 10 (S.D. Ohio 1983).
[iii] Klipa v. Board of Education, 54 Md. App. 644 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. 1983).
[iv] Uranga v. Federated Publs., Inc., 138 Idaho 550 (Idaho 2003).
[v] Lugosi v. Universal Pictures, 25 Cal. 3d 813 (Cal. 1979).
[vi] Allen v. National Video, Inc., 610 F. Supp. 612 (S.D.N.Y. 1985).
[vii] Moglen v. Varsity Pajamas, Inc., 13 A.D.2d 114 (N.Y. App. Div. 1st Dep’t 1961).
[viii] Remsburg v. Docusearch, Inc., 149 N.H. 148 (N.H. 2003).
[ix] Zieve v. Hairston, 266 Ga. App. 753 (Ga. Ct. App. 2004).
[x] Dominguez v. Davidson, 266 Kan. 926 (Kan. 1999).
[xi] TBG Ins. Services Corp. v. Superior Court, 96 Cal. App. 4th 443 (Cal. App. 2d Dist. 2002).
[xii] Nipper v. Variety Wholesalers, 638 So. 2d 778, 781 (Ala. 1994).
[xiii] Cibenko v. Worth Publishers, Inc., 510 F. Supp. 761 (D.N.J. 1981).
[xiv] Strickler v. National Broadcasting Co., 167 F. Supp. 68, 71 (D. Cal. 1958).
Created byВ FindLaw’s team of legal writers and editors | Last updated December 27, 2019
Invasion of privacy is the unjustifiable intrusion into the personal life of another without consent. However, invasion of privacy is not a tort on its own; rather it generally consists of four distinct causes of action. States vary on both whether they recognize these causes of action as well as what elements are necessary to prove them, so you should be sure to check your state’s laws or consult with a lawyer before bringing legal action.
The four most common types of invasion of privacy torts are as follows:
- Appropriation of Name or Likeness
- Intrusion Upon Seclusion
- False Light
- Public Disclosure of Private Facts
Below, you’ll find explanations and examples of each of these causes of action.
Appropriation of Name or Likeness
Intrusion Upon Seclusion
Intrusion upon seclusion laws protect your right to privacy while you are in solitude or seclusion. This right extends to you or your private affairs. For example, it’s an invasion of privacy for a neighbor to peek through your windows or take pictures of you in your home. Likewise, it’s also an invasion of privacy to use electronic equipment to eavesdrop on a private conversation. The general elements of this tort are as follows:
The defendant does not need to communicate the details of the intrusion to a third party; once the defendant has committed the intruding act (and the plaintiff proves the necessary elements), the defendant is liable for invasion of privacy.
False light laws protect your right to not have potentially misleading or damaging information about yourself publicly disclosed. This includes the disclosure of information that may be true but is nonetheless misleading or damaging. For example, it may be an invasion of privacy if a caption published with a photograph in a news article about a protest describes a person as a participant, when in fact, the person was only observing the protest. Generally, the elements of false light are as follows:
Many states also require the plaintiff to prove that the defendant acted with actual malice, so be sure to check your state’s laws or consult with a lawyer if you believe you may have a claim.
Public Disclosure of Private Facts
Public disclosure of private facts laws protect your right to keep the details of your private life from becoming public information. For example, publicizing facts about a person’s health, sexual conduct, or financial troubles is likely an invasion of privacy. While state laws vary, the general elements of this tort are as follows:
- The defendant publicized a matter regarding the private life of the plaintiff;
- The publicized matter would be highly offensive to a reasonable person; and
- It is not of legitimate concern to the public.
To publicize a private matter, laws generally require that private information is disseminated in such a way that it is substantially certain to become public knowledge.
Popular Example in the Media
It probably seemed like a great idea when a well-regarded suburban school district decided to loan its students laptop computers for the entire school year, even permitting the students to take the laptops home. The students, however, were unaware that the laptops were armed with internal anti-theft protection that allowed school district personnel to activate the laptops’ webcams anytime without the consent or knowledge of the user. The school district used this anti-theft function to take thousands of pictures of its students studying, speaking to family members, and even sleeping.
The so-called “Webcamgate” scandal resulted in a Pennsylvania school district paying a six-figure sum to settle the invasion of privacy lawsuit against it. While Webcamgate would have seemed far-fetched in the 1980s and 1990s, today and in the future, we can expect technology to continue to challenge our right to privacy, making understanding this right essential.
Learn More About Invasion of Privacy Claims
If you believe you have suffered an invasion of privacy, it’s important to seek out the help of a qualified lawyer. Filing a legal claim protects your rights and can compensate you for the emotional and mental distress the invasion caused as well as for any financial or reputational harm you suffered as a result. Speak with a defamation attorney to learn more.
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A federal appeals court last Thursday revived nationwide litigation accusing Facebook Inc. of violating users’ privacy rights by tracking their internet activity even after they logged out of the social media website.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said Facebook users could pursue several claims under federal and California privacy and wiretapping laws.
A spokeswoman for Facebook said the proposed class action was without merit, and the Menlo Park, California-based company will continue defending itself.
Facebook users had accused the company of quietly storing cookies on their browsers that tracked when they visited outside websites containing “like” buttons, and then selling personal profiles based on their browsing histories to advertisers.
U.S. District Judge Edward Davila in San Jose, California had dismissed the lawsuit in 2017, including claims under the federal Wiretap Act, and said the users lacked legal standing to pursue economic damages claims.
But in Thursday’s decision, Chief Judge Sidney Thomas wrote for a three-judge panel that users had a reasonable expectation of privacy, and had sufficiently alleged a “clear invasion” of their right to privacy.
The panel also said California law recognized a right to recoup unjustly earned profits, regardless of whether a defendant’s conduct directly caused economic harm.
“Facebook’s user profiles would allegedly reveal an individual’s likes, dislikes, interests, and habits over a significant amount of time, without affording users meaningful opportunity to control or prevent the unauthorized exploration of their private lives,” Thomas wrote.
Citing Facebook’s data use policy, he also said the plaintiffs “plausibly alleged that Facebook set an expectation that logged-out user data would not be collected, but then collected it anyway.”
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York Editing by Noeleen Walder and Matthew Lewis)
Twitter is a free service that makes money primarily through advertising. (File photo: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration)
WASHINGTON: Twitter has agreed to pay US$150 million to settle allegations it misused private information, like phone numbers, to target advertising after telling users the information would be used for security reasons, according to court documents filed on Wednesday (May 25).
Twitter’s settlement covers allegations that it misrepresented the “security and privacy” of user data between May 2013 and September 2019, according to the court documents.
The company will pay US$150 million as part of the settlement announced by the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). In addition to the monetary settlement, the agreement requires Twitter to improve its compliance practices.
The complaint said that the misrepresentations violated the FTC Act and a 2011 settlement with the agency.
“Specifically, while Twitter represented to users that it collected their telephone numbers and email addresses to secure their accounts, Twitter failed to disclose that it also used user contact information to aid advertisers in reaching their preferred audiences,” the complaint said.
Twitter’s chief privacy officer, Damien Kieran, said in a statement that with the settlement “we have aligned with the agency on operational updates and program enhancements” to protect user privacy and security.
Twitter executive changes aimed at building ‘a stronger Twitter’, CEO says
Musk pledges more equity to fund Twitter deal, scraps margin loan
Explainer: Do claims against Musk raise a legal issue for his companies and Twitter deal?
Twitter is a free service that makes money primarily through advertising. Billionaire Elon Musk, who is buying the service for US$44 billion, has criticised its ads-driven business model and pledged to diversify its revenue sources.
US officials pointed out that of the US$3.4 billion in revenue that Twitter earned in 2019, about US$3 billion was from advertising.
The company made US$5 billion in revenue for 2021. It said in a filing earlier this month that it had put aside US$150 million after agreeing “in principle” upon a penalty with the FTC.
“Twitter obtained data from users on the pretext of harnessing it for security purposes but then ended up also using the data to target users with ads,” said FTC Chair Lina Khan in a statement. “This practice affected more than 140 million Twitter users, while boosting Twitter’s primary source of revenue.”
The complaint also alleges that Twitter falsely said it complied with the European Union-US and Swiss-US Privacy Shield Frameworks, which bar companies from using data in ways that consumers do not authorise.
Twitter’s settlement follows years of fallout over the privacy practices of tech companies.
Revelations in 2018 that Facebook, the world’s biggest social network, was using phone numbers provided for two-factor authentication to serve ads enraged privacy advocates.
Facebook, now called Meta, similarly settled with the FTC over the issue as part of a US$5 billion agreement reached in 2019.
If you have recently received a speeding ticket, you may want to challenge it in court. Going to traffic court may be a good investment in time since you may have a reasonable chance to get the fine reduced or the ticket dismissed entirely.
Review the traffic code you are alleged to have violated
Your first line of defense to contest a traffic ticket is to perform some research and learn more about the specific statute written on the summons. Get a copy of the traffic code that you were alleged to have violated and read through it carefully. It is possible that you were not in violation of all the elements listed in the traffic code. In addition, you should also become more familiar with your state traffic laws that concern the area of your traffic violation.
Speeding Tickets and State Traffic Laws
If you received a speeding ticket, check with your state department of transportation to determine the type of speed limit laws in your state. If your state speeding laws have “absolute” speed limits, it may make your speeding ticket defense a little more difficult than if your state has “presumed” speed limit laws. The law in states that have “absolute” speed limits is that you are guilty if you have even gone one mile over the posted limit. The speed limit is the absolute highest speed you are allowed to go. In states that have “presumed” speed limit laws, being slightly above the absolute speed limit does not make you automatically guilty. You can make a speeding ticket defense on the fact that you were briefly driving above the posted speed limit to maintain a safe flow with the traffic conditions and that it was also safe given the road conditions.
Discovery of evidence for your traffic ticket defense
To begin preparing your defense, you will want to take advantage of the “discovery” process to obtain relevant evidence. By law, the prosecuting attorney must provide you with the information and evidence they have against you. You may wish to ask the court clerk at your local courthouse how to make or fill out a request for discovery. The information you should request and receive will have the ticketing officer’s notes, whether a radar gun was used and should include maintenance records. In addition, you may request and also should receive a list of any witnesses to the incident that led to your traffic ticket.
Take pictures for your traffic ticket defense
After reading the evidence you received via discovery carefully, you should gather your own evidence for your defense. Go the location where you were given the traffic ticket or speeding ticket. Take pictures of the roadway or intersection where you got your traffic ticket or speeding ticket. When taking pictures, try to include a landmark that will indicate that the pictures are where you say they are (such as a street sign.) If the traffic ticket was issued away from the area of the landmark, take a picture of the landmark and then additional pictures side by side until you reach the area where the traffic ticket was issued. In this way, a judge can piece together your pictures and conclude your testimony is truthful and good evidence.
When you take pictures of the area where you received your traffic ticket or speeding ticket, try to go on a day that had the same weather conditions. If you can, get a copy of the weather report for the day the ticket was issued. You should list any special circumstances that you can remember such as traffic hazards, unsafe drivers who were driving erratically in the area, etc. An explanation of why you were speeding, such as to avoid an unsafe condition, could be valuable in providing a valid defense. Draw a diagram that you will later be able to show a judge if any details can be shown that might help your case.
Question witnesses for your traffic ticket defense
You should consider questioning any witnesses listed in discovery about anything in the state’s records. It is possible that the witness might not be as sure about the items written in the record. If there was a passenger in a car, question them and record their answers. Take all papers, diagrams and photos with you to court. If the witnesses may help you, call them to the stand. If their testimony might hurt you, try to impeach them and show the court that their memory might be fuzzy or that they aren’t so sure about what is on the record.
Caught by radar?
You can defend a speeding ticket even when a radar gun was used. Many people do not realize that most radar equipment cannot pinpoint one vehicle over another when it is pointed at several vehicles at the same time. It picks up the most reflective surface in the area. Metal traffic signs, utility lines, power stations and other vehicles with more reflective surface may have resulted in faulty readings. This is especially true if there was heavy traffic in the area and it would be difficult for the radar to pinpoint your vehicle.
You may wish to go to the scene of the speeding ticket and take pictures of where you were and where the radar gun was used. Are there any traffic signs in the way that could have blocked your view? Any other obstructions, like bushes or trees? Photograph them and show how they blocked your view to the judge while making your defense. You will want to prove the obstruction so you can argue that the radar gun had an inaccurate reading because the aim was obstructed by these items. You will also want to take pictures of metallic and reflective devices in the area.
When trying to defend a speed ticket when radar or laser technology is used, you may find it best to hire an experienced traffic ticket lawyer to defend you. They are frequently familiar with all the latest technology used, its limitations and any laws or conditions that may be of help in your defense.
Arguments you can make for your defense
There are several arguments that you can make for your speeding ticket defense:
- In a “presumed” speed limit state, if you driving in excess of the posted speed because it was necessary to do so as not to hinder the flow of traffic, argue that you driving safely for the conditions. Back up your claim by having copies of traffic records in your city or county that documents it as a high traffic area. You can obtain traffic maps from your city or county government that show the amount and flow of traffic in any given area at particular time periods.
- Another defense you can make is that you were speeding due to a physical emergency. If you were speeding due to an emergency need for medical treatment, you may get the speeding ticket dismissed. Document this excuse by bringing any evidence that shows you received medical treatment right after you received the speeding ticket.
- Questioning the officer’s report and/or training is another good line of defense. Request information on the training and experience of the ticketing officer. This information is a matter of public employee records and it is available to you. To obtain this information, make a request from the public information officer at the particular agency where the officer works. Use this information, if applicable, when it is your turn to question him in court. This defense works best if the officer was not trained properly in using the radar equipment.
Browse US Legal Forms’ largest database of 85k state and industry-specific legal forms.
- Last Will and Testament
- Power of Attorney
- Promissory Note
- LLC Operating Agreement
- Living Will
- Rental Lease Agreement
- Non-Disclosure Agreement
Privacy is the right to be let alone or to be free from misuse or abuse of one’s personality. The right of privacy is the right to be free from unwarranted publicity, to live a life of seclusion, and to live without unwarranted interference by the public in matters with which the public is not necessarily concerned[i].
A person has an actionable right to be free from the invasion of privacy[ii]. Invasion of privacy is a tort based in common law allowing an aggrieved party to bring a lawsuit against an individual who unlawfully intrudes into his/her private affairs, discloses his/her private information, publicizes him/her in a false light, or appropriates his/her name for personal gain.
The tort of invasion of privacy is the publicizing of one’s private affairs with which the public has no legitimate concern, or the wrongful intrusion into one’s private activities, in such manner as to outrage or cause mental suffering, shame, or humiliation to a person of ordinary sensibilities.
The tort of invasion of privacy is not intended to be duplicative of some other tort. To a certain extent, this is a tort in which the focus is the right of a private person to be free from public gaze.
The tort of invasion of privacy consists of four distinct wrongs[iii]:
- the intrusion upon the plaintiff’s physical solitude or seclusion;
- publicity which violates the ordinary decencies;
- putting the plaintiff in a false, but not necessarily defamatory position in the public eye; and
- the appropriation of some element of the plaintiff’s personality for a commercial use.
In several states the right of privacy is pronounced by statute, though the statutory right may be limited to a right to protection against appropriation of one’s name or likeness.
In only a few states have the courts definitely denied the existence of any common-law right of privacy, the invasion of which, independently of other considerations, will constitute a tort.
Under some jurisdictions, the right of privacy is based on the federal constitutional guaranties. Other jurisdictions have drawn a sharp distinction between one’s constitutional right of privacy, which defends the individual against government action, and the right to privacy that is involved in a tort action.
While the constitutional right of privacy provides a limitation on governmental action, it is the right of privacy under tort law which confers personal rights on an individual as against other individuals.
Some other jurisdictions have suggested natural law as the basis of the right of privacy. Some courts expressly recognize that the right of privacy has derived from the root of some already established right, such as a property right. Also, there is a public policy interest in protecting the reputations of citizens.
By virtue of the Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the Federal Constitution, the common-law cause of action for invasion of privacy includes the right to be left alone. However, the Constitution of the U.S. protects privacy from governmental invasion and protection of a person’s general right of privacy, that is, his or her right to be left alone by other people, is left largely to the law of the individual states.
Two separate standards exist for finding the tort of an invasion of privacy[iv]:
- If there has not been public or commercial use or publication, then the proper standard is whether there has been an intrusion upon the plaintiff’s physical solitude or seclusion, or a wrongful intrusion into one’s private activities in such manner so as to outrage or to cause mental suffering, shame or humiliation to a person of ordinary sensibilities.
- If there has been public or commercial use or publication of private information, then the proper standard is whether there has been unwarranted publicity, unwarranted appropriation or exploitation of one’s personality, publication of private affairs not within the legitimate concern of the public, an intrusion into one’s physical solitude or seclusion, the placing of one in a false but not necessarily defamatory position in the public eye, or an appropriation of some element of one’s personality for commercial use.
A provision in the state constitution that no person should be disturbed in his/her private affairs, nor his/her home invaded, without authority of law, is not intended to give rise to a private cause of action between private individuals, but is intended as a prohibition on the state.
[i] Strutner v. Dispatch Printing Co., 2 Ohio App. 3d 377 (Ohio Ct. App., Franklin County 1982).
[ii] Black v. Aegis Consumer Funding Group, Inc., 2001 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 2632 (S.D. Ala. Feb. 8, 2001).
[iii] Norris v. Moskin Stores, Inc., 272 Ala. 174 (Ala. 1961).
[iv] Hogin v. Cottingham, 533 So. 2d 525 (Ala. 1988).
Thursday, May 26, 2022
Insurers allege no duty to defend BIPA violation claim
ORGANIZATIONS IN THIS STORY
EAST ST. LOUIS — The insurers of a St. Clair County ice cream and yogurt shop business allege they have no duty to defend a lawsuit alleging violations of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) filed by an employee.
State Auto Property and Casualty Insurance Company and State Automobile Mutual Insurance Company filed a complaint Sept. 14 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois against Fruit Fusion Inc., Taylor Patt, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, alleging no duty to defend.
According to the plaintiffs’ complaint, their insured, Fruit Fusion, holds commercial general liability insurance polices for its ice cream and yogurt shop businesses in Belleville and Fairview Heights. They claim that a Fruit Fusion employee, Patt has filed a suit in the St. Clair County Circuit Court, alleging the company’s use of employee fingerprint scans to clock in and out is in violation of BIPA. The plaintiffs allege they do not have a duty to defend Fruit Fusion because their policies include only coverage for bodily injury, property damage and personal and advertising injury. The plaintiffs further allege Fruit Fusion’s policies do not cover claims of BIPA violations or injury arising out of employment-related practices. They also claim Fruit Fusion “may contend” that the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act provides remedy for Patt’s BIPA claim against them.
The plaintiffs seek monetary and all other just relief. They are represented by Robert Chemers of Pretzel & Stouffer, Chartered in Chicago.
Even the best contractors and construction companies are vulnerable to claims of fraud. The typical situation occurs where a contractor completes a job, but the owner does not want to make the final payment. When the contractor attempts to collect, the owner threatens a fraud or consumer fraud claim as a way to try to avoid having to pay for the work. Contractors are especially vulnerable in residential construction, because of the technical requirements of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act governing home improvement contractors are little known and strictly enforced.
Defending Claims of Fraud Against Contractors
Fraud occurs when one party makes a misrepresentation of important facts on which the other party relies to its detriment. Normally in construction contracts these misrepresentations must be made before the contract is signed, and the other party must have relied on these misrepresentations in deciding to enter into the contract. A successful claim of fraud can result in the contract being ordered to pay the owners damages plus punitive damages.
Our attorneys have handled many claims of fraud, and utilize all the defenses available under New Jersey construction law. We fight aggressively for our clients’ rights. The most important thing to do, however, is to build a strong case backed by solid evidence to show that not only didn’t the contractor commit fraud, but that the owner got exactly what she contracted for.
Defending Contractors Against Claims of Consumer Fraud on Residential Construction Projects
A greater problem is the regulations governing the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act. These requirements are quite technical, indeed bordering on minutia. However, they must be strictly followed, or a home improvement contractor on a residential construction project can be held liable for triple the owner’s “damages” (also known as “ascertainable losses”) and responsible for the homeowner’s attorneys fees.
Violations of New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act occur whenever a home improvement contractor makes any affirmative material misrepresentation whether intentional or not, and whenever a contractor knowingly withholds material information.
In addition, the Department of Community Affairs has issued regulations which make certain acts in connection with contracts for home improvements.
- Every home improvement contract must be in writing, and signed by both parties.
- The contract needs to include the name, registration number and address of the contractor.
- All change orders must be in writing, and signed by both parties as well.
- Contracts must have the date on which the work will begin and be completed by.
- Every contract must contain specific required language about the owner’s three day right to cancel the contract in specified print and size.
- The contract must attach a copy of the contractor’s general liability insurance policy, and include the insurance carrier’s telephone number.
- The full price and what is included in that price must be set forth in detail in the contract.
- The contract must include the warranties on both goods and materials.
- The specific brand, type and quantity of materials must be described in the contract.
- In addition, the regulations make the failure to follow any of these requirements consumer fraud violations.
- A home improvement contractor must register with the Department of Community Affairs.
- Home improvement contractors cannot disparage their competition.
- Every written communication from the contractor to the customer must include the contractor’s Department of Community Affairs registration number.
- The contractor must obtain all required permits, and must obtain them before starting work.
- The contract must be fully signed before commencing work.
- The contractor cannot require the homeowner to pay in full before the job is complete.
There are several ways in which our construction attorneys defend contractors in consumer fraud cases. The first way to do this, of course, is to show that there was no consumer fraud, either by a misrepresentation or omission, and that there were no “technical” violations of the consumer fraud regulations. To do this, we make aggressive use of the “discovery” process allowed by New Jersey law, which gives us the opportunity to build the case that no consumer fraud occurred.
Even when technical violations or actual misrepresentations occurred, however inadvertent, there are defenses which can be raised. Additionally, we can use the discovery process to show that the owner did not suffer any “actual” and “ascertainable” loss, which is required for recovery of damages under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act.
The best defense to a technical violation of the regulations is to ensure that the contract itself has no violations, and the best way to do this, of course, is to have a contract written without any violations. We have spent years writing home improvement contracts for contractors which help them get paid and comply with New Jersey’s consumer fraud regulations, and helping them revise existing contracts so that they comply.
Our construction attorneys aggressively utilize every defense and use the discovery process to the fullest to defend our clients against claims of fraud and consumer fraud. For help, please e-mail us or call (973) 890-0004.
We all know the freedom of speech is an important and protected right in America, but it is important to understand there are limitations. That means as an author, you must use caution when writing about others, or you might end up with a lawsuit. This article should summarize the basic principles of defamation law in the United States, but should not be taken as legal advice. For questions regarding your specific situation, we always advise contacting an attorney in your jurisdiction for legal counsel, but this information should help you become better informed about this potentially costly topic.
Over the years, lawmakers have tried to find a balance between freedom of speech and protecting individuals. It has been a constant struggle, and libel isn’t an exact science. There can be a lot of grey area. So how can an author avoid a defamation lawsuit when writing a book? How do you know what you can and cannot publish? To successfully navigate the murky waters of libel law, you must understand the definition of libel and follow some basic dos and don’ts to avoid a defamation lawsuit.
What is libel?
Libel is the publication of a false statement that hurts someone’s reputation. It is one of the two forms of defamation. Slander is the other form, which is a defaming statement that is spoken, instead of written. Defamation is the umbrella term for libel or slander.
Who can sue for libel?
Laws vary from state to state, but in most cases, any individual, business, not-for-profit, small group, or corporation can sue for defamation. Government bodies cannot sue, but individual politicians can.
What must be proven in a libel lawsuit?
For someone to win a libel lawsuit, they must prove these four things:
- Falsity: The plaintiff must show that the claim is an untrue statement masquerading as fact.
- Fault: For private individuals, only negligence needs to be proven. For public figures (such as politicians and celebrities) “actual malice” must also be shown, which means the defaming statement was published without regard of the truth and with the intention of hurting the individual.
- Damage: The plaintiff must prove that harm was caused by the defaming publication, such as loss of revenue, emotional trauma, or loss of esteem in the eyes of others.
- Publication: The libelous claim must be read by someone other than the plaintiff and defendant. You don’t have to be a bestseller to be the subject of a libel lawsuit. If your book is published, then you’re at risk.
Dos and Don’ts: How to avoid a defamation lawsuit as an author
Authors are not often sued for libel, but it can and does happen. While you can never be 100 percent sure you are not at risk, there are some basic dos and don’ts that can help you reduce the probability your book could result in a lawsuit.
Do tell the truth
In a libel case, truth is a defense. A true statement, no matter how scathing, isn’t libelous. However, there are other factors to consider.
- Don’t make claims based on assumptions or opinions. Adding “in my opinion” before a statement won’t save you in a libel case.
- Don’t embellish or exaggerate. If your book is nonfiction or memoir, then make sure it is truthful in every detail.
- Don’t overlook invasion of privacy laws. Even though a true statement might not be libelous, it could qualify as invasion of privacy, especially for a private individual.
Do consider parody
When you really want to make a bold statement, consider writing a book of parody or satire, which doesn’t require you to make truthful statements. It’s protected against libel suits, as long as the parody is so ridiculous that no one could mistake it as fact.
Do use a disclaimer
Fiction example: “This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.”
Memoir example: “This book is a memoir . It reflects the author’s present recollections of experiences over time. Some names and characteristics have been changed, some events have been compressed, and some dialogue has been recreated.”
Don’t assume a disclaimer will protect you. While it may help, the disclaimer alone isn’t a foolproof solution. Courts can rule these types of disclaimers null and void.
Do hide identities thoroughly
To protect the privacy of individuals in your book and avoid a libel lawsuit, you have to put in the extra work and get creative.
- Don’t assume changing names is enough, because it’s not. If you make a claim about your doctor and only change the name, people who know you or the doctor might still be able to identify the doctor. Change multiple aspects. Ensure that those who know you or the doctor won’t be able to reasonably identify the individual.
- Don’t use a recognizable aspect of a person. It is tempting to use certain details about a person that make them interesting, such as wearing a handlebar mustache or riding a Segway—but don’t do it. It’s easy proof that you are indeed writing about a real person. Instead, get creative and come up with some interesting quirks of your own.
Do use extreme caution for certain claims
Calling someone a crook, prostitute, or corrupt individual is easy bait for a lawsuit, especially if you don’t have concrete evidence to back it up. It’s better to simply tell your story and let the readers come to their own conclusions. This way, you can avoid labeling a person or business a term that could trigger a big reaction.
Don’t make false statements that qualify as libel per se, or libel that is so obviously harmful that the plaintiff doesn’t even have to prove damages. According to Cornell Law School, examples include the following claims about an individual:
- Committed crimes of moral turpitude (a crime that’s especially vile and against morals)
- Performed acts of unchastity
- Carries a loathsome disease
- Or any other claims that negatively affect the person’s profession or business
Do obtain written permission from individuals
Don’t publish sensitive material unless it is critical to the success of your book. Weigh the importance of including material. Is it really worth the risk? Or could you express your point in another way?
Do speak with a lawyer when publishing sensitive material.
Don’t forget to support your claims with evidence. It’s good practice to cite sources in your work, plus it can help you defend yourself in a lawsuit. If you cannot find evidence to support a claim, then perhaps it is speculation instead, in which case you should clearly state it as such.
When in doubt, speak to a lawyer who specializes in publishing or the First Amendment. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
The Statute of Limitations for Invasions of Privacy
- The Statute of Limitations for Invasions of Privacy
- What Are the Kinds of Emotional Distress One Can Sue for in a Lawsuit?
- Settlement Vs. Judgment
- Settlement & Release Agreement
In the United States, every person has a right to privacy. In the most straightforward sense, this is the right to be left alone; in broader terms, it is a person’s reasonable expectation of privacy. When an individual feels that her right to privacy has been violated in some way, she may sue for invasion of privacy.
Four Types of Privacy Violations
There are four primary ways in which an individual’s privacy can be violated:
- Intrusion of his solitude
- Appropriating his name or likeness
- Publicly disclosing his personal information
- Portraying him in a false light
Intruding on an individual’s solitude includes intercepting his mail or phone calls, looking through his windows or harassing him with incessant phone calls. When a victim chooses to sue for invasion of privacy, the court is tasked with determining whether the perpetrator’s actions would be considered offensive by a reasonable individual.
Gather Evidence to Support a Privacy Lawsuit
An invasion of privacy lawsuit is a civil claim, not a criminal one. This means that there is no allegation that the defendant violated any criminal law, but that her actions did cause the plaintiff to suffer damages. When an individual opts to sue for invasion of privacy, she may claim that she suffered both monetary and non-monetary damages, including:
- Lost profits.
- Mental anguish.
- Physical injury.
- Damaged professional or social reputation and the financial losses that can follow.
- Punitive damages (in some states).
A successful invasion of privacy claim requires evidence that not only did the alleged perpetrator invade the victim’s privacy, but that the invasion caused her to suffer damages. In a civil case like this, the burden of proof – the onus to prove the event occurred through a sufficient body of evidence – is on the plaintiff.
File a Complaint With the Court
An invasion of privacy lawsuit is typically handled by the local circuit court or district court, depending on the jurisdiction where it occurs. When cases involve parties in multiple states, locations under federal jurisdiction or violations of federal law, they are handled in federal court.
The complaint is the initial form that outlines all the details of the alleged incident or series of incidents, including the accused’s name, the location where the incident occurred, the details surrounding the incident and how it caused the claimant to suffer damages. After the claimant files the complaint with the court, he receives copies of the document and serves a copy of the complaint to the alleged perpetrator. After serving the defendant, the claimant files an affidavit of service with the court, a document stating that he served the complaint on the defendant.
Settle or Prepare for Trial
Once the defendant has been served, both parties prepare for court. The first step in this process is known as discovery, during which both parties gather relevant evidence about each other, like their testimonies and information about the evidence they plan to use in court. This is often followed by efforts to settle the issue out of court, potentially through mediation or by negotiating a settlement for the plaintiff.
Not every invasion of privacy lawsuit can be settled out of court, though. When negotiations and other attempts to settle do not lead to a resolution, the case heads to court to be heard and ruled on by a judge and/or jury. After examining the evidence presented, including both parties’ testimonies, the judge rules on the case or the jury renders a verdict. If the court finds that the plaintiff did suffer damages from an invasion of privacy, it awards her an amount deemed to be appropriate compensation for those damages.
Examples of False Claims Act violations show the penalties are enormous. But do examples do us any good? It depends on the situation. Many times people learn far better by example than anything else. When you are trying to learn the tango, watching a couple dance with passion teaches more than any book. But when it comes to fraud violations, the examples are frightening.
The False Claims Act exists to punish people who commit fraud against the government. This fraud exists when companies bill the government for services that didn’t take place or overcharge for materials. Billing for services not delivered, overcharging for material goods, failing to provide information related to products or services and charging for skilled professionals who did not perform the work are all examples violations.
Although the law has existed since the Civil War days, Congress made amendments in 1986. The changes allow ordinary citizens to file complaints on behalf of the government. These citizens are the whistleblowers and can receive significant rewards.
Whistleblowers usually work for the company they report for fraud. The False Claims Act protects the whistleblower from retaliation by that company. Whistleblowers that make a complaint of fraud might experience harassment at work. Employers can deny benefits or promotions. Whistleblowers can even lose their jobs. The False Claims Act makes those actions illegal. It also provides a financial reward for whistleblowers.
What Are the Most Common Examples of False Claims Act Violations?
● Most False Claims Act violations are in the healthcare and medical industries. Examples include people who lie to Medicare or Medicaid, facilities that bill for services they did not provide, or those that inflate the cost of the services they did get. They may even lie about who is providing services. The company bills the government for skilled professionals but uses non-professionals instead.
● Drug companies can often be huge offenders of False Claims Act violations. A good example is company salespeople that offer incentives to doctors. Incentives include kickbacks and gifts to the doctors in exchange for using the company’s drugs. Kickbacks can include elaborate vacations and other perks.
● Dental fraud is another example. Dentists claim payments for services they have not completed. For example, a hygienist performs a teeth cleaning, but the bill indicates the dentist did the work and charged his rate.
● More serious examples of healthcare fraud can involve nursing home care or hospice care. The administration may charge for care not given or unnecessary care. The company charges the government for procedures and tests, even though they did not perform the work. Hospice owners may provide care to people who do not need hospice level care.
What Are the Different Types of Violations that the False Claims Act Covers?
Medical and healthcare issues are the most common breaches of the False Claims Act. But there are other violations as well. Here are some examples of False Claim Act Violations:
● Scams that offer free grants for education
● Construction companies working on state highways claim for materials not used
● Business kickbacks or rewards
● Claiming unused materials or labor from defense forces
● Giving untrue information when applying for a government grant or program
● Using lower quality materials than contracted and billed for
● Giving false information to the Department of Veteran Affairs
● Government staff claiming pay for hours that they did not work
● Buying or taking property that belongs to the government
The False Claims Act protects whistleblowers from retaliation by their employers. Examples of retaliation include people losing their jobs because they made complaints, denial of promotions, or not allowing sick days. In addition, whistleblowers might have trouble getting work somewhere else. The company might spread rumors about the whistleblower’s quality of work. They may have them blackballed throughout their industry. All these are violations of the False Claims Act.
What Should You Do If Your Company Is Violating the False Claims Act?
You should consult an attorney experienced in violations of the False Claims Act. They will be able to tell you if your company is breaking the law and committing fraud. They can show you several examples of False Claims Act violations resulting in prosecution. They will also know how to protect you against any retaliation by your employer.
You must report any violations of the False Claims Act that you see. Your attorney will protect you from retaliation. If your allegations result in a conviction, you may receive a huge reward. Contact the skilled False Claims Act attorneys at Bothwell Law Group by calling 770.643.1606 today. We will sit down with you and discuss examples of False Claims Act violations, so you can move forward with confidence.
“You have been prescreened, and qualify for a car loan” or “You have been prescreened and qualify for a $1000 loan”
Fair Credit Reporting Act Claims – Credit History Violations
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) permits companies to access certain information about your credit history for purposes of making a “firm offer of credit”. However, some companies send mailers or e-mails stating that they prescreened your credit and you qualify for a loan, but are empty promises or not firm offers of credit. These companies may be in violation of the FCRA, and you may be entitled to compensation.
Some mailers or offers that may be in violation of the FCRA include the following:
- An offer to buy a car, where the loan amount stated is insufficient to buy a car
- An offer for a loan, where the terms of the loan are not provided such as failure to commit to one interest rate or to the method for calculating interest
- Credit card offers
- Mortage offers or mortage refinancings where the terms of the mortgage and a set interest rate are not specifically stipulated
If you believe you may be the victim of a credit history violation through receiving an improper prescreened credit mailer for a loan, please schedule a free confidential consultation by calling us at 630-333-0000, or filling out our intake form on our Contact Us page. Please note that we will need a copy of the document in question. If it is a mailer, please scan the document and e-mail it to us.
Receiving junk faxes? Fight back!
Although junk faxes are illegal, many companies still use them because they are inexpensive (the recipient even pays for the ink and paper!) and even a small response can be very profitable for the company.
Headquartered in Oakbrook Terrace and Chicago, Illinois, we aim to educate consumers, stop companies who wrongfully profit on consumers, and assist consumers in obtaining compensation for physical and financial harm caused by violating consumer rights.
We accomplish our goals by bringing lawsuits directly on behalf of consumers or as part of a class action against companies that violate consumer protection and privacy laws.
Unsolicited Cell Phone Text Messages
Unsolicited cell phone text messages cost consumers millions of dollars a year, and can result in additional unwanted charges on your cell phone bill. We are preparing class action lawsuits to stop these unfair advertising practices that invades your privacy and takes away your hard earned dollars. If you are a victim of unsolicited cell phone text message advertising contact one of our attorneys today.
Experienced Privacy Violations Lawyers
Our attorneys have decades of experience handling consumer claims for violation of their rights. Our attorneys aggressively pursue claims on your behalf to obtain fair and just compensation for your injuries, and to prevent companies from injuring other similarly situated individuals. For information about us and the benefits of retaining our attorneys to help you, please visit the Our Philosophy page on this site.
If your rights as a consumer have been violated, including your privacy rights through the receipt of junk faxes or identity theft, it is time for you to fight back. Please schedule a free consultation with an experienced privacy violation lawyer by calling us at 630-333-0000, or filling out our intake form on our Contact Us page.
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How to File a Complaint Regarding HIPAA Policy
- How to File a Complaint Regarding HIPAA Policy
- How to Report Violations of the Americans With Disabilities Act
- How to File a Civil Suit in South Carolina
- How to Address a Letter to an Attorney
Lawsuits violating privacy are protected under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) and filed with the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR). HIPAA protects citizens’ private health information including information contained in medical records. An actual lawsuit technically is not based on the HIPAA violation; rather the lawsuit is based on violation of personal privacy. Anyone has the right to file a lawsuit but should realize the basis is not the HIPAA act itself.
Complaint Form Packages
Obtain the OCR Health Information Privacy complaint form package by visiting their website and clicking the links available to open the PDF documents or by completing the online complaint form.
While the online portal is quick and easy, you may prefer to complete a hard copy and get a certified mail receipt of delivery as documentation. If choosing the physical copy method, print the complaint and consent form and send it to the OCR regional office located closest to where the violation occurred. For a list of OCR regional offices, visit their website. Email, mail or fax the forms to the appropriate OCR office.
File complaints within 180 days of the alleged violation. The OCR investigates alleged violations, initiating corrective action and enforcing penalties where deemed necessary. Filing a complaint is not filing a lawsuit, but is the first step in recording the alleged violation.
Filing the Lawsuit
Contact an attorney if you wish to file a lawsuit against the individual, business or organization based on the privacy violation. Wait until you have filed the official HIPAA complaint before filing the lawsuit. Bring the complaint form package and any supporting documentation to the attorney at your first meeting. Provide your attorney with copies of all documents as well as contact information of witnesses who corroborate your claim.
Cases with many people claiming HIPAA violations can become larger class action lawsuits. If you are aware of others affected in the same manner as you by the company in question, refer them to you attorneys to build a stronger case.
Settle or Go to Court
Settle the case or go to court. Your attorney will attempt to negotiate a settlement with the violator’s attorney. Larger companies will often settle rather than extend litigation and potential negative publicity. If settlement is not an option, a court trial will occur. Appear with documentation, witnesses and your OCR complaint. A judge and possibly a jury will decide the validity and penalty, if applicable.
You can take a case to court under the Human Rights Act if you are claiming that a public authority, such as a local authority, the police or the NHS, has violated one or more of your human rights. You may also be able to make a claim against other bodies carrying out public functions. Find out more about who the Act applies to.
Taking court action can be a long and stressful process. It can also be expensive. But sometimes it is the only way forward. Remember – the courts and tribunal systems are there for all to use and thousands of people use them successfully on their own every year.
Is legal action the best way forward? You should consider other options first – see how you can protect your human rights without going to court. Bear in mind, however, that there are strict time limits for taking legal action (see below). Whatever you do, it’s best to act as early as possible.
If you’re considering court action, you should get advice from an experienced adviser. The cost is a worry for many people, but if you get benefits or are on a low income, you might be able to get a lawyer on legal aid.
Find out where you can get help and advice on legal aid in England and Wales and Scotland.
The Human Rights Act states that only the ‘victim’ of a human rights breach can take legal action under the Act. You could be the victim as an individual, group of people, company or other organisation. Interest groups and charities cannot take legal action themselves unless they meet the ‘victim test’. But they can help you if you are bringing a claim.
If you face legal action from someone else, you may be able to use the Human Rights Act to defend yourself (for example in the criminal courts).
The way that a court enforces your right (known as a ‘remedy’) depends on the type of court action you’re taking.
The most common remedies include:
- financial compensation or damages,
- a declaration that your rights have been breached,
- an order overturning the decision you have complained about – in England and Wales this is called a quashing order and in Scotland reduction, and
- an order that the public authority should do something – in England and Wales this is called a mandatory order and in Scotland specific performance.
A court will not automatically order financial compensation even if it decides your human rights have been breached. This depends on whether you’ve suffered a loss that the court thinks you should be compensated for. The value of compensation in human rights cases is usually relatively low.
You usually have to bring proceedings within a year of the potential breach of your human rights. But there may be stricter time limits depending on the type of court action you take, and this can be as short as three months (or even less in some cases). The court can allow you to bring proceedings after a longer period if it thinks this is fair, but this is rare.
Last updated: 21 Feb 2020
If you think you might have been treated unfairly and want further advice, you can contact the Equality Advisory and Support Service.
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Alternatively, you can visit our advice and guidance page.
Under the federal civil rights statute (Title 42, section 1983, of the United States Code), state and local government officials can be sued for money damages on grounds of the violation of the plaintiff’s constitutional rights under color of authority. (Federal officers can be sued under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents.) For example, if an officer makes an unreasonable arrest, the arrested person may be able to sue for a violation of his or her Fourth Amendment rights, because that amendment explicitly guarantees everyone a right to be free from unreasonable seizures.
Due Process and Civil Liability
Of course, there is no constitutional right to be protected by police against exposure to danger. So how could a person frame a federal lawsuit against an officer by simply claiming the officer failed to protect him from whatever injury he suffered? The Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals have said that the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment due process clauses can provide grounds for a civil rights lawsuit under either of two separate doctrines: (1) the “special relationship” doctrine; or (2) the “state-created danger” doctrine.
“Special Relationship” Liability
“A special relationship exists when the state assumes control over an individual sufficient to trigger an affirmative duty to provide protection to that individual (e.g., when the individual is a prisoner or involuntarily committed mental patient).” (Uhlrig v. Harder) In other words, when you assume custody of a person, you also assume the responsibility to take reasonable steps to provide for his or her care and safety and to ensure the person’s protection against foreseeable risks.
This kind of claim is primarily made against corrections officials, but it may also be made against local police in their operation of a jail or even while a person is under arrest and in the custody of an officer. For example, if you arrest and handcuff a person and place him into the back seat of the police car for transportation to the station but you fail to secure him with a seat belt, any injuries he sustains if someone rear-ends your police car could make you and your employing agency liable for a due process violation. Since your prisoner was unable to put on his own seat belt, you had an affirmative duty to belt him in before driving away.
“State-Created Danger” Liability
More common than a claim of liability based on the “special relationship” doctrine is a claim that someone who was not in police custody nevertheless came to injury or death at the hands of another, or via human or natural hazards, because of something police did or failed to do in circumstances of obvious danger. This is the “state-created danger” theory of liability.
“Although the state’s failure to protect an individual against private violence does not generally violate the guarantee of due process, it can where the state action affirmatively places the plaintiff in a position of danger, that is, where state action creates or exposes an individual to a danger which he or she would not otherwise have faced.” (Kennedy v. Ridgefield)
In other words, if you become involved in an incident and your action or omission places the person in a more precarious position than if you had not intervened at all, you could face liability for creating a greater danger.
Examples of application of the “state-created danger” doctrine are more numerous than “special relationship” cases, and they are often far more tragic in their facts. Just a few will be enough to illustrate how this doctrine works.
Wood v. Ostrander.
Washington troopers stopped a car at 2:30 a.m., arrested the driver for DUI, and impounded the car, leaving the passenger/wife to walk away alone in a high-crime area. She was later picked up by a man who drove her to a secluded spot and raped her. The Court of Appeals ruled that these allegations created potential liability based on state-created danger, since the police actions placed the wife at greater risk of being assaulted than she had faced before police intervention.[PAGEBREAK]
A man and his drunken wife were walking to their home in Philadelphia one winter night when police officers detained them. Because the pair were less than a block from home, the officers allowed the husband to go on home to care for their child, while they detained the wife a bit longer. Although the wife was visibly intoxicated and had difficulty walking without assistance, police eventually released her to stagger away in the darkness. She fell down an embankment and suffered severe brain damage.
Her ability to sue for violation of her constitutional right of due process was upheld on the theory that once police separated the woman from the assistance of her husband and saw how inebriated she was, their decision to release her to make her own way in the darkness increased the level of danger that she would fall and injure herself.
Munger v. Glasgow.
Officers were called to a bar to eject a drunken and belligerent Lance Munger, who was causing a disturbance. Although the temperature outside in the Montana night was only 11 degrees with a wind-chill of minus 25, and even though Munger wore only jeans and a T-shirt, officers prevented him from getting into his truck or reentering the bar. He walked away into the night and froze to death two blocks away. Upholding his parents’ right to sue, the Court of Appeals said that police had “placed Munger in a more dangerous position than the one in which they found him,” and so could be held liable under the “state-created danger” doctrine.
Kennedy v. Ridgefield.
When police investigated charges that a 13-year-old neighbor had molested the Kennedys’ 9-year-old daughter, the Kennedys expressed great fear that the boy was unstable and dangerous. They asked police to let them know before officers interviewed the boy, so they could take precautions.
Officers promised to do so, but instead contacted the boy and his mother without notifying the Kennedys. When the Kennedys learned of this, officers sought to allay their fears by assuring them of extra patrols around their house. That night, the boy broke into their house, shot Mr. Kennedy dead, and shot and wounded Mrs. Kennedy.
The Court of Appeals concluded that by giving assurances that were not kept and by discouraging the Kennedys from taking prudent precautions for their own protection, police had placed the victims in greater danger than they otherwise would have faced.
As to individuals in your custody, you have a “special relationship” that requires you to take reasonable care of them. Failure to do so could result in federal civil
In most states, police are statutorily immune from tort damages for failing to protect the citizenry. However, once you do become involved in a situation, your acts or omissions that place others in dangers they did not otherwise face can cause liability under the federal civil rights laws for “state-created danger.” (State tort liability for negligence is governed by state laws, which vary from state to state. Check these with your local civil advisers.)
Devallis Rutledge is a former police officer and veteran prosecutor who currently serves as Special Counsel to the Los Angeles County District Attorney. He is the author of 12 books, including “Investigative Constitutional Law.”
What is the Equal Pay Act?
The Equal Pay Act (EPA) protects workers and employees from gender discrimination . It also provides that employees shall be given equal pay for equal work. In the evaluation of equal work, the following factors are taken into consideration under the EPA:
- Skill: Comparable experience, training, education, and ability will be considered, as required for a particular job.
- Effort: The level of physical and mental exertion required for the job will be evaluated.
- Responsibility: The amount of obligation and accountability required for the job will also be a factor.
- Working conditions: Comparable environment and hazards presented by the job are taken into account.
Thus, since each job description is different, the determination of “equal work” will involve many different factors. Courts will seek to determine how equal pay should be applied using these factors and others when possible.
- What are Some Violations of the Equal Pay Act?
- Does the Equal Pay Act Only Protect Women?
- What is Included in the Equal Pay Act?
- How Can I File a Claim for Violation of the Equal Pay Act
- Who Has the Burden of Proof When You File a Claim Under the Equal Pay Act?
- Is there a Statute of Limitations for Equal Pay Act Claims?
- Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with an Equal Pay Act Claim?
What are Some Violations of the Equal Pay Act?
If an employer does not provide equal pay for equal work, then they may be in violation of the Equal Pay Act, and may be sued for discrimination.
Some examples of EPA violations may include:
- Paying an employee less than another employee who performs the same work, based on that person’s gender.
- Treating one group of employees differently than another group in terms of pay, based only on gender (for instance, treating one group better than the other).
- Denying an employee insurance or other benefits based on gender.
- Refusing to pay or issue pension benefits due to the employee’s gender.
- Various other discrepancies in pay or company benefits based on the employee’s gender or gender identification.
Does the Equal Pay Act Only Protect Women?
The Equal Pay Act was initially created to protect women. It was created mainly to address the unfair pay gap usually directed at women. However, the courts have since ruled that the Act applies to both genders, and “ reverse discrimination ” against men is also a violation.
Thus, if an employer discriminates against a man with regard to pay based solely on their gender, then it may be a violation of Equal Pay Act provisions. This can apply in situations where women “traditionally” are employees, like in nursing.
What is Included in the Equal Pay Act?
The Equal Pay Act directly addresses issues regarding pay rates and salaries. However, the Equal Pay Act also requires the following to be equal for equal work amongst employees:
- Employee pensions;
- Insurance coverage;
- Profit sharing;
- Vacation time;
- Bonuses; and
- Use of company equipment.
How Can I File a Claim for Violation of the Equal Pay Act
To be successful in a claim for violation of the Equal Pay Act, it is necessary to first establish an employer/employee relationship, and prove the following:
- The pay difference is based on gender;
- The type of work was performed under comparable working conditions;
- There was equal work involved, as determined by equal skill, effort, and responsibility; and
- The employee received less compensation than another opposite sex employee who performed the same work.
All of the above must be present in order to have a successful claim for a violation of the Equal Pay Act. The best chance you have of furthering your claim is to make sure you have all of the relevant documents/evidence that is ready to support your claim.
Who Has the Burden of Proof When You File a Claim Under the Equal Pay Act?
Once an employee makes a claim against an employer, they will then have the burden of proof to show all the above factors apply. If a claim is established, then the burden of proof is shifted to the employer to provide a solid defense against the claim.
Thus, when filing a claim, it’s important for the employee to have a solid foundation of evidence and proof to begin with. If you are the person filing the claim, you should start gathering important information and documents that might be useful for your claim. These include:
- Any documents regarding pay or salary, such as pay receipts or wage stubs, hiring contracts, and company employment policies;
- Any communications from your employer regarding pay, such as emails, written or printed documents, or text messages;
- Statements from persons who may be involved, such as human resources personnel, co-workers, or supervisors; and/or
- Any other information that might be useful for your claim, such as bank account information and deposit receipts.
Is there a Statute of Limitations for Equal Pay Act Claims?
As with most lawsuits, a statute of limitations (filing deadline) also applies to filing a violation of the Equal Pay Act. Typically, an EPA claim must be filed in state or federal court within two years of when the violation occurred . This date is usually when the discriminatory pay action happened or when the employee discovered the equal pay violation.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with an Equal Pay Act Claim?
If you have been discriminated against at work regarding your pay based on gender, you should contact an employment lawyer immediately. Proving a violation of the Equal Pay Act can be difficult, but an discrimination lawyers can help build your case and provide legal advice. They can also counsel you on your best course of action, and represent your best interests in a court of law.
Most people share data without thinking about it. They provide information to companies while purchasing merchandise, signing up for email lists, downloading apps and more. They also expect the respective enterprises to safeguard those details.
Unfortunately, the businesses in question often fall short of the task, exposing valuable data. The resulting violation of privacy laws can lead to huge fines and eroded public trust.
Here are six recent examples of companies that failed to do everything they could to respect users’ privacy.
1. Zoom gave data to third parties without users’ knowledge
An April 2020 piece from The New York Times alleged that popular video conferencing site Zoom engaged in undisclosed data mining during user conversations. The coverage asserted that when a person signed into a meeting, Zoom transmitted their data to a system that matched individuals with their LinkedIn profiles.
The incident happened via a subscription-based tool called LinkedIn Sales Navigator that Zoom offered customers to assist with their marketing needs.
Moreover, when someone signed into a Zoom meeting with an anonymous name, the tool still connected that person to their respective LinkedIn profile. Thus, the person had their real name revealed to a fellow user despite efforts to keep it private. Zoom promised to disable the tool and remove it from the company’s offerings.
2. Google violated children’s privacy laws
Google is under fire for violation of privacy laws, recent reports say. A California federal court received a lawsuit from two children suing the tech giant through their father. The pair assert that the G Suite for Education platform unlawfully collects biometric data from kids who use it. If so, that action would likely mean Google disregarded the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), a federal mandate that requires getting parental consent before gathering data from minors under 13. Moreover, the company may face allegations of violations associated with state biometric laws. The issues could affect millions of kids and their privacy.
3. Hackers dump confidential law firm data
A law firm’s document management system (DMS) contains all the legal documents about its clients. Some include records spanning 10 to 20 years, making it especially necessary to protect the data. Privacy violations sometimes occur due to inadequate cybersecurity. For example, the Maze hacker group targeted Texas law firm Baker Wotring and published a “full dump” of the organization’s data. The incident was a ransomware attack, and the leak likely happened when the cybercriminals did not receive the requested payment. The compromised records included case diaries, consent forms and more.
4. Facebook fined for its role in Cambridge Analytica data harvesting
Federal officials in the United States carried out a 16-month investigation and determined Facebook repeatedly misled its users and compromised efforts to safeguard privacy. That decision came after Cambridge Analytica used a third-party app to harvest data from a Facebook quiz for political purposes.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) fined Facebook $5 billion for the infractions, the largest amount ever imposed on a company for a consumer privacy regulation.
5. Ring Doorbell app allegedly loaded with trackers
The Ring doorbell has an accompanying app that lets people see, hear and speak to individuals who arrive on their doorsteps — even without being home. Unfortunately, when the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) investigated the Android version, it discovered numerous third-party trackers. The researchers say that Ring sent data to four outside entities, providing them with personally identifiable information.
The transmitted details include names, IP addresses and data from users’ device sensors. The EFF warned that recipients could combine all the information to get a unique user picture.
6. WhatsApp flaw sacrificed the privacy of top government officials
Privacy violations also happen if malicious parties exploit weaknesses in widely used apps. Such a situation unfolded when NSO Group, an Israeli hacking tool developer, allegedly built and sold a product that allowed the infiltration of WhatsApp’s servers due to an identified weakness. This problem caused at least 1,400 users to have their mobile phones hacked within approximately two weeks in April and May 2019.
A sizeable segment of the identified victims were reportedly high-profile government officials located in at least 20 countries. Early investigative efforts failed to confirm the perpetrators that used the tool from NSO Group.
How to protect online privacy
There’s a good chance that most of the companies mentioned here are familiar. It’s understandable, then, to worry whether it is safe to keep using products from the brands. That’s a highly personal decision. Companies and individuals alike can take decisive steps to protect their privacy by:
- and unscrupulous behavior
- Reading all privacy and user agreements before signing up for a service or app
- Restricting the type and number of permissions that installed apps have on devices
- Reviewing all current privacy settings for apps and sites at least monthly, and tweaking them as necessary
- Staying abreast of cybersecurity news to learn about relevant violations of privacy laws, breaches Downloading apps from reputable sources, such as official websites or app stores that vet content and remove harmful software
Knowing how to protect your privacy increases the chances that valuable details will remain in your control. Otherwise, the likelihood goes up of private data falling into the wrong hands and getting misused.
How these civil rights claims proceed in Ohio
By Super Lawyers staff on September 24, 2020
Updated on February 8, 2021
Municipalities operate a tight budget. As they face a number of different liability risks, they must be prepared to protect the financial interests of the community at large. If a local employee or local agency—such as a police officer or a police department—is accused of violating an individual’s civil rights, the municipality could face a federal civil lawsuit under Section 1983.
“It can be an employment case; it can be a law enforcement case; it can be a children’s services case; now we’re defending a lot of local health districts in COVID cases; it can be almost anything that involves the conduct of a public employee,” says Todd M. Raskin, a Cleveland attorney at Mazanec, Raskin & Ryder who has defended such claims for more than 30 years.
Below, you will find an overview of Section 1983 lawsuits and an explanation of how municipalities can defend these types of civil claims.
Understanding the Basics
Passed as a part of the Civil Rights Act of 1871, 42 U.S. Code § 1983—or, as it is more commonly referred to, “Section 1983”—is the main legal tool that individuals have to hold local governments and local government agencies legally liable for a civil rights violation. “It doesn’t create any substantive rights for anybody,” Raskin explains. “It’s a federal statute which provides a vehicle for people who claim that their constitutional rights have been violated.”
As such, Section 1983 claims cover a wide swath, including:
- First Amendment claims, such as freedom of speech and freedom of association—”cases where municipalities restrict time and days when people can solicit homeowners,” Raskin says. Plus, there are employment claims such as whistleblower retaliation.
- Fourth Amendment claims, which are “typically brought against law enforcement because of a wrongful detention, wrongful prosecution, right to counsel, or excessive force,” Raskin adds.
- Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment due process claims, “depending upon whether or not a person is a pretrial detainee—in other words, accused of a crime, but not convicted—and those can relate to incarceration,” he says. Property owners can also assert a due process claims, arguing a municipality isn’t granting a zoning request to use their property as they wish.
- Eighth Amendment claims for deliberate indifference to serious medical needs.
“There are all kinds of these claims, and that’s just a very broad overview,” Raskin explains.
In order to bring a winning Section 1983 civil rights claim, a plaintiff must prove the following two key elements:
- They were deprived of federally guaranteed civil rights, privileges, or immunities; and
- The violation occurred under the “color of law” on the part of the municipal defendant.
Taking Steps to Defend Yourself
Section 1983 suits are federal claims that, in the case of Ohio, are brought before the Sixth Circuit. “Many times, the first inkling a public entity has about the potential for a lawsuit is through a public records request,” Raskin says. “So we recommend to the public entities that that’s when they should get counsel involved.”
Another early step Raskin asks of clients is to preserve electronically stored information (ESI).
“That becomes particularly important when you’re dealing with custody cases or cases involving law enforcement interaction with the public. While many communities have both body cam and dashcam, because of storage issues, especially in smaller communities, that information is recycled periodically,” he says. “In the Sixth Circuit, the statute of limitations on these cases is two years. So, oftentimes, if the municipality isn’t aware of the potential of a claim, electronically stored information will be recycled and lost forever. So it’s very important that any potential claim be identified as early as possible and all of that electronically stored information be retained.”
Personnel and training records are another important item. Though many of the claims listed above are made against individuals, some claims can also be made against the municipality itself, and those are typically referred to as Monell claims. This is because of an important legal precedent, the 1978 Supreme Court case Monell v. Department of Social Services of the City of New York.
“The court recognized that there could be claims directly against the municipality for failure to train or failure to supervise if those failures were the moving force behind the constitutional violation,” Raskin says.
“So, if the municipality or the law enforcement department failed to properly train its officers in when to initiate pursuit, how to supervise a pursuit, and when to stop or cut off a pursuit, there could be potential liability, not only on the part of the officers and their supervisors, but also on the part of the municipality,” he adds. “So we want to see the training files and the discipline files because we need to know whether or not we’re dealing with people who have repeatedly been engaged in conduct, which is the subject of litigation.”
How these civil rights lawsuits should be defended depends entirely on the unique allegations being raised by the plaintiff. It is important to emphasize that plaintiffs must base any claim for broader municipal liability on its implementation of unlawful policy or custom. Plaintiffs must prove:
- A policy/custom was enacted or pursued with the required degree of culpability; and
- A causal link between the denial of federal rights and the municipal policy.
If you have any specific questions or concerns about defending a Section 1983 claim, an experienced Ohio state, local, and municipal attorney can help. For more information on state, local, and municipal law, see our overview.
ZoomInfo Privacy Violations Class Action Lawsuit Overview
- Why: The plaintiff accuses ZoomInfo of violating her privacy, and others’, by using their personal information without consent for monetary gain.
- Who: A California resident lodged a class action lawsuit against ZoomInfo.
- Where: The class action lawsuit was filed in Washington federal court.
A California resident filed a class action lawsuit against ZoomInfo, a business sales and marketing platform, accusing the company of violating intellectual property and privacy rights by stealing individuals’ names and personal information and using them as subscription advertisements.
The lead plaintiff, Kim Carter Martinez, is not a subscriber of ZoomInfo and has never used zoominfo.com, but was “seriously distressed” to find ZoomInfo using her name and personal information on its website and subscription advertisements. She seeks to represent a Class that includes all California residents who do not subscribe to zoominfo.com and whose names and personal information were used by ZoomInfo in its promotional teaser profiles.
The class action lawsuit accuses ZoomInfo of misappropriating Martinez’s and Class Members’ names, contact information, work histories, job titles, and other personal information, all without permission or consent from these individuals.
Martinez alleges that she and other Class Members have the right not to be exploited to “promote a product with which they have no relationship and no interest in supporting.”
ZoomInfo ‘Unable to Verify’ Legality of Information Source
Martinez does not know how ZoomInfo got her information. ZoomInfo stated in its annual report that it “receive(s) data from third-party vendors,” but is “unable to verify” where that data came from, how it was received, and whether it was collected and shared in compliance with data privacy laws, according to court documents.
ZoomInfo also allegedly exploits its Community Edition subscribers who must install ZoomInfo software onto their computers. The software automatically collects the names and contact information of every person the subscriber emails, receives an email from, or has emailed in the past, even without those individuals’ consent.
ZoomInfo Uses Private, Sensitive Information for Monetary Gain
ZoomInfo displays Martinez’s and Class Members’ names and information on teaser profiles on its website, sometimes including photographs of the individual, according to the complaint.
Not billed as “sample” profiles, these pages promise “full access” to individuals’ information, including their colleagues’ contact information and a chart showing their positions within the company, once someone has subscribed to ZoomInfo at a cost of $10,000 or more per year, says the class action.
ZoomInfo has acknowledged that it “relies heavily” on its public teaser profiles to “generate a significant portion” of the website’s traffic, according to court documents.
The class action lawsuit seeks statutory damages, disgorgement of profits, royalties for the use of their personas, restitution of the value of their personas, prohibition of ZoomInfo’s unlawful conduct, attorneys’ costs, and declaratory relief.
Similar class actions lawsuits have been filed against yearbook company Classmates.com and online director RocketReach by consumers who say the companies made private information and images of them public on the internet without permission.
Have you ever used ZoomInfo or seen your information displayed on its website without your knowledge? Tell us about it in the comments section below!
The plaintiff is represented by Samuel J. Strauss of Turke & Strauss LLP.
The ZoomInfo Privacy Violations Class Action Lawsuit is Martinez v. ZoomInfo Technologies Inc. , Case No. 3:21-cv-05725, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.
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