Discussion 5.1: Case Analysis
1.) What were legal issues in the case? What did court decide?
The employee brought the claims for the public disclosure of the private facts, false imprisonment, defamation, and the infliction of emotional distress. The trial of the court’s decision to grant the summary judgment was upheld for privacy and for emotional distress claims. However, court ruled that employee could go to the trial on basis of false imprisonment and defamation claims
2) What was basis of Dietz’s privacy tort claim? Her infliction of the emotional distress claim? Why were they rejected?
Dietz’s privacy claim was based upon the allegation that Bake disclosed credit problems to the Camp and Seufert. The general tort, in the invasion of the privacy, includes the four distinct injuries: (1) intrusion upon the seclusion, (2) appropriation of the likeness, (3) public disclosure of the private facts, and (4) the false-light publicity. There was no evidence that Dietz had special relationship either so that the disclosure to them, under circumstances, would render them “particular public.” Because Finlay and the Ayres negated publicity element of Dietz’s claim, they were entitled to the summary judgment for the invasion of privacy
Infliction of the emotional distress claims to have rigorous requirements that must be met. The conduct at the issue must exceed the bounds usually tolerated by decent society and must cause the mental distress of very serious kind. In the appropriate case, issue may be decided as the matter of law. Dietz asserts that the Bake accused her of the substance abuse, shoplifting, and the dishonesty in gruff and intimidating the manner. According to Appellate court, even if interview proceeded as it is asserted, Dietz’s intentional infliction of the emotional distress claim fails as the matter of law
3) What was basis of her false imprisonment claim? The defamation claim? Why was allowed to go to the trial on them? Is she likely to prevail at the trial?
The basis for false imprisonment claim was the assertions that she did not feel to be free to leave interrogation, security manager verbally told her to stay in room, and she felt that if she had tried leaving the security manager would have acted in order to stop her. Under Indiana Shoplifting Detention Act, owners of the stores or their agents could detain the persons when there is the probable cause to believe they engaged in theft and they might enjoy immunity from the claims based on such kind of detentions. However, while there was the probable cause she had sold jewelry at lower than authorized price; the additional accusations were made regarding the missing pieces of jewelry for which the probable cause was not shown. While there was enough evidence to her claim to deny the summary judgment, this is not open and shut the case of false imprisonment. She had signed the document stating that she understood that she was free to leave at any time. Interrogation lasted slightly under one hour. While verbal control could also result in false imprisonment, the case involving physical coercion is the certainly more clear-cut.
The defamation claim was based on the false, disparaging statements made by security manager, accusing her of having drug or alcohol problem and for committing robbery to fund the habit. The audience was two other employees present in office. While the qualified privilege might apply, it could be lost if statements were made with the reckless disregard for truth or if they were overly broadly published to the others without legitimate need to know. There was the question as to whether other employees present had legitimate need to know the information. This claim could have some teeth, given highly defamatory nature of the accusations and implication that had been brought up primarily to rattle employee into confession
4) What, if anything, should the employer do differently?
It is not clear that this situation required high-pressure interrogation by the security personnel. In any event, interrogation should not have been conducted within the earshot of the other employee who was just hanging around. The security person should not have made unfounded accusations or knowingly the false statements impugning her character. The training and the instructions given the security personnel might also need some further attention. Conducting interview in a more reasonable, considerate manner would likely have been of great advantage.