The verdict is in, a Florida jury recently handed down a verdict exceeding $100 million in an invasion of privacy case involving a ex-professional media. This shocking verdict was handed down by a jury made up of four women and two men, and was not all the jury awarded in the end.
This case involved a well known ex-professional wrestler and a website popular for publishing salacious videos and articles about famous people. This case itself was novel for its approach to challenging just what an information and internet company can publish under the protection of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Reputations and Invasion of Privacy
The case itself was based on invasion of privacy. The company in question came into possession of a video tape that depicted the ex-professional wrestler with the wife of one of his friends having adult relations. Once the company got possession of the tape, they edited down to several minutes, and published it on the internet for everyone to see.
Immediately after the ex-wrestler knew the tape was published on the web, his legal team demanded it be taken down. The company refused to take it down, asserting they had a right to publish it under the First Amendment.
Of course, the First Amendment does protect each of us with the right to free expression, and prohibit governments from passing or enforcing laws limiting almost all kinds of speech. But that was not at issue here. Historically, a number of forms of speech has been limited by laws - defamation is one example. One can not simply publish false facts about another which causes damages, and declare protection from a lawsuit under the First Amendment, that person would be liable for defamation.
The same is true for other types of speech, intentional infliction of emotional distress is one example where words could cause a person to be liable for the damage they cause. And invasion of privacy is another. Under a theory of invasion of privacy, a person cannot publish private facts about a person, and profit from it, when the person did not intend those facts to me made public, and the facts are not an issue of public concern.
Ultimately, it was invasion of privacy that the ex-professional wrestler won on. But in addition to the damages of $100 million for invasion of privacy, the jury also awarded punitive damage worth tens of millions of dollars to punish the company and its owners for their acts. This is an important lesson for future publishers of content on the internet, not all information is protected, and any company should be judicious in what they publish for public consumption.
Panama City Area Accident and Injury Attorney
While we do not typically handle cases of this type at The Pittman Firm, we do take on suits where innocent people are the victims of negligence and thoughtless acts. Such an injury can come about through a car accident, medical malpractice incident, or a number of different ways. If you or a loved one has been injured in this or another way, contact us. We will go over your case with you for free.