3.13-10 Invasion of Privacy - False Light
New May 1, 2009
In this action, the
plaintiff alleges that the defendant has invaded (his/her) privacy by placing
(him/her) in a false light before the public. By this (he/she) means that the
defendant publicized material about (him/her) that is false and is such a major
misrepresentation of (his/her) character, history, activities or beliefs that a
reasonable person in the plaintiff’s position would either be expected to take
serious offense or be justified in feeling offended or aggrieved.
To recover on this claim,
the plaintiff must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence:
(1) that the defendant
publicized material or information about the plaintiff that was false;
(2) that the defendant
either knew that the publicized material was false and would place the plaintiff
in a false light or acted with reckless disregard as to whether the publicized
material was false and would place the plaintiff in a false light; and
(3) that the material so
misrepresented the plaintiff’s character, history, activities or beliefs that a
reasonable person in the plaintiff’s position would find the material highly
In determining whether a
reasonable person in the plaintiff’s position would be seriously offended by the
false material, you must determine whether, in the eyes of the community, the
plaintiff would be justified in feeling offended or in feeling aggrieved.
Venturi v. Savitt,
191 Conn. 588, 468 A.2d 933 (1983); Goodrich v. Waterbury
Republican-American, Inc., 188 Conn. 107, 448 A.2d 1317 (1982); Honan v.
Dimyan, 52 Conn. App. 123, 726 A.2d 613, cert. denied, 249 Conn. 909, 733
A.2d 227 (1999); Jonap v. Silver, 1 Conn. App. 550, 474 A.2d 800 (1984);
Restatement (Second) § 652E.
Invasion of privacy
involves not one single tort, but is four distinct kinds of invasion of four
different interests of the plaintiff, which are tied together by the common
name. Otherwise they have almost nothing in common except that each represents
an interference with the right of the plaintiff to be left alone. The four
categories of invasion of privacy are: (1) unreasonable intrusion upon the
seclusion of another; (2) appropriation of the other's name or likeness; (3)
unreasonable publicity given to the other's private life; and (4) publicity that
unreasonably places the other in a false light before the public. See
Venturi v. Savitt, 191 Conn. 588, 591, 468 A.2d 933 (1983); 3 Restatement
(Second), Torts § 652A- E.
“Publicity” means that the
matter is made public, by communicating it to the public at large or to so many
persons that the matter must be regarded as substantially certain to become one
of public knowledge. 3 Restatement (Second), Torts § 652 D and E, comment
Many times, the material
that places someone in a false light is also defamatory. In those cases,
actions for invasion of privacy and defamation are pleaded together. Each
action, however, protects different interests: privacy actions involve injuries
to emotions and mental suffering - defamation actions involve injury to
reputation. Even if pleaded together, there can be only one recovery for any
particular publication. Goodrich v. Waterbury Republican-American, Inc.,
188 Conn. 107, 128 n.19, 448 A.2d 1317 (1982). It is not necessary,
however, that the offensive material also be defamatory.
To the extent that this
claim may also involve freedom of the press, federal law is also relevant.
Goodrich v. Waterbury Republican-American, Inc., 188 Conn. 107, 129, 448
A.2d 1317 (1982).