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Pearson v. Dodd, US Court of Appeals, DC Circuit, 1969 Did the columnists intrude on ∏ because of the way they obtained the information (through the staffers knowing that it was obtained without the ∏’s Issue

Let’s assume that the employees intruded. Now, if we were to hold ∆s liable for obtaining information obtained though intrusion, then we’d be holding liable for a tort – not prepared to do that because that would put to big a strain on human weakness to hold one liable inn damages who merely succumbs to temptation and listens)

Intrusion does not involve as one of its essential elements the publication of the information obtained. The tort is completed with the obtaining of the information by improperly intrusive means. Extend invasion of privacy to intrusion: intrusion, whether by physical trespass or not, into spheres from which an ordinary man in a plaintiff's position could reasonably expect that the particular defendant should be excluded. Where there is intrusion, the intruder should generally be liable whatever the content of what he learns. On the other hand, where the claim is that private information concerning plaintiff has been published, the question of whether that information is genuinely private or is of public interest should not turn on the manner in which it has been obtained

2 former and 2 current employees of ∏ (Senator Dodd) snuck into his offices, photocopied files and passed the info to ∆s newspaper reporters. The ∆s published articles from the copy material about the Senator’s relationships with lobbyists and an interpretive sketch of the senator’s public career.

The information published is of public interest and therefore not subject to privacy protection. There is also no intrusion (as stated above)

Held Procedure P argues D argues

The senator sued the columnists for invasion of privacy and conversion. Court said Yes to conversion and No to invasion of privacy because the published material was of public interest – the kind of material that is not subject to suit for invasion of privacy. Not invasion of privacy but intrusion.

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