Surveillance: Iowa Support’s Wife’s Privacy Invasion Claim

Privacy-related news in Iowa…and there seems to be a lot of it sometimes…is always of special interest to me. I often wonder how the same types of situations would play out in other states. Here’s an invasion of privacy case regarding in-home surveillance that is particularly interesting…

I just read a December 19, 2008 Iowa Supreme Court ruling that supports a “tortious” invasion of privacy claim of a woman whose former husband secretly videotaped her marital home bedroom activities while they were still legally married.
A brief excerpt:

“When she viewed the tape, Cathy discovered it revealed nothing of a graphic or demeaning nature. Although the tape was not offered in evidence, we credit Cathy’s testimony that it recorded the “comings and goings” from the bedroom she regularly used. Notwithstanding the unremarkable activities recorded on the tape, Cathy suffered damage as a consequence of Jeffrey’s actions. She felt violated, fearing Jeffrey had placed, or would place, other hidden cameras in the house.”

The court ruled the husband’s use of a hidden motion activated video camera above his wife’s bed was “highly offensive to a reasonable person,” and that the lower court was reasonable in granting the wife $22,500 in damages.
The district court found the videotaping occurred when “the parties were separated and residing in separate residences.”
The comparatively short judgment is quite an interesting read. It covers a subject not often discussed; the expectation of privacy within your own home, and from other members of your family.
Considering the possible things the ex-husband could have, and may have, done with the tape, and what other types he may have based upon the documented habit of making secret recordings in other areas, the award sounds a little low, doesn’t it?

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