New Jersey

New Jersey recognizes the four privacy torts.

Intrusion: An article about a home sale that included a picture of the home was not actionable as intrusion because the photograph was taken from a public street, and the view was available to any bystander. Bisbee v. Conover, 452 A.2d 689 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 1982).

A reporter who conducted a surprise interview with a company’s owner was not liable for trespass because he was not warned off and actually had been directed by an employee to the front office. Machleder v. Diaz, 801 F.2d 46 (2d Cir. 1986), cert. denied, 479 U.S. 1088 (1987).

Private Facts: The owner of a company who became agitated during a surprise television interview about the dumping of hazardous waste on neighboring property had no private facts claim because the encounter was in a semi-public place, the owner knew the cameras were rolling, and the facts were not highly offensive. Machleder v. Diaz, 801 F.2d 46 (2d Cir. 1986), cert. denied, 479 U.S. 1088 (1987).

False Light: A teacher could not sue for false light based on a yearbook “funny pages” photograph of her with another teacher that was captioned, “Not tonight Ms. Salek. I have a headache.” The photograph clearly was parody, satire, humor, or fantasy. Salek v. Passaic Collegiate School, 605 A.2d 276 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 1992).

The owner of a company who was subjected to a surprise television interview about the dumping of hazardous waste on neighboring property had no false light claim based on the station’s failure to include less incriminating statements. In addition, there was insufficient evidence to prove the owner was not “intemperate and evasive.” The court added that even if false, the portrayal was not highly offensive. A jury found that the illegal dumping allegation was not substantially false. Machleder v. Diaz, 801 F.2d 46 (2d Cir. 1986), cert. denied, 479 U.S. 1088 (1987).

Misappropriation: The family of a police officer whose death CBS dramatized had no cause of action because the murder was of legitimate public concern. The court also rejected an intentional infliction of emotional distress claim. Lamonaco v. CBS Inc., unpublished, 21 Med. L. Rptr. 2193 (D.N.J. 1993).

When a book did not include a particular photo of a Vietnam veteran, but the publisher’s promotional letter and mail campaign advertisement envelope did, the use of that photograph was misappropriation. Tellado v. Time-Life, 643 F.Supp. 904 (D.N.J. 1986).